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China won’t soon mediate on Ukraine war, Australian envoy warns

China won’t soon mediate on Ukraine war, Australian envoy warns

by host

China won’t be playing a mediation role between Russia and Ukraine anytime soon, Australian ambassador to the U.S. Kevin Rudd said, as Beijing’s priority remains keeping a stable alliance with Moscow.

“If [Chinese President] Xi Jinping looks at the world, he looks at Russia, he sees a neighboring state, a massive common border with whom they’ve had a fractious relationship since the Sino-Soviet split in 1959,” the former Australian prime minister told POLITICO during an exclusive interview in the Swiss town of Davos on Thursday night.

“Anyone who thinks therefore that Xi Jinping is going to trade that in for playing ‘happy families’ in Ukraine is wrong.”

While this might change in future — as signaled by China’s appointment of a special envoy to Ukraine — Rudd said it’s unlikely to happen soon, as Beijing’s “core business” at the moment is maintaining its “benign and supportive and useful relationship” with Moscow.

“Anyone who thinks that there’s going to be a negotiated outcome through Beijing” in the foreseeable future “has got rocks in their head,” he joked.

Kyiv has long hinted it hopes Beijing will play middleman with Moscow, but Xi has given no sign he wants to facilitate an end to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s full-scale war on his country’s neighbor.

In almost two years of conflict China’s relationship with Russia has not faltered, and Beijing continues to provide Putin’s forces with materials for military use despite Western pressure and sanctions.

On the other hand, Beijing continues to snub attempts by Ukrainian leaders to strike up conversations, as seen recently in the Swiss Alps, where the Chinese delegation in Davos gave Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy the cold shoulder at the World Economic Forum.

Andrew Forrest, executive chairman and founder of the Fortescue mining and green energy company, agreed with Rudd. Speaking to POLITICO, Forrest said that China’s priority is lifting its people out of poverty, and that being “publicly neutral” toward Russia can be economically advantageous. However, he warned, this support is not open-ended.

“If there was any mischief towards a nuclear weapon of any type … by Russia, that support or that benign resistance would evaporate straight away.”

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