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Beijing has tried to create a rift between the EU and the U.S. by telling Brussels to pursue an “independent” policy toward the Russian-Ukraine war.

The Global Times, an English-language Chinese publication, noted how Beijing is encouraging EU leaders to take a “primary role for Ukrainian resolution.”

DCO Global News
Published on April 4, 2022
By Odoh Dominic Chukwuemeka

European Union Headquarters Building, Brussels, Belgium.

“Chinese President Xi Jinping, during a video meeting with EU leaders on Friday, offered four suggestions on how China and the EU can cooperate to help with the current Ukraine crisis, especially on supporting the EU play a primary role in promoting communication among the EU, the US and NATO and finding solutions to build an effective and sustainable EU security framework,” read a Global Times editorial posted a day after the EU and China held their 23rd bilateral Summit.

It’s unclear if Brussels took a different position during the meeting. Instead, it tried to convince Beijing not to interfere with sanctions by reminding its responsibility as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council to uphold the respect for international law.

“We underlined that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is not only a defining moment for our continent, but also for our relationship with the rest of the world,” said Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission.

“There must be respect for international law, as well as for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. China, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, has a special responsibility. No European citizen would understand any support to Russia’s ability to wage war.”

Nonetheless, Beijing “turned the tables” on Brussels by advising them to go their way in finding a resolution to the Russian-Ukraine war, implying that the EU should stop supporting the U.S.-led alliance that has imposed sanctions on Russia.

Meanwhile, Beijing reiterated its standard position on the Russian-Ukraine conflict. “China finds it deeply regrettable that the situation in Ukraine has come to where it is today. China’s position on the Ukraine issue is consistent and clear-cut. China always stands on the side of peace and draws its conclusions independently based on the merits of each matter.”

Beijing’s efforts to steer the EU away from Washington in the war come at a critical time for Europeans and Americans. Sanctions against Russia have collateral damage to the U.S. and EU economies.

They have helped push food and energy inflation, and undermine family budgets. On Friday, Eurostat reported that inflation in the eurozone jumped to 7.5% in March, up from 5.9% in February, fueled by a 44.7% surge in energy prices.

The problem of food and energy inflation is more pronounced in the EU than in the U.S., as the EU is more dependent on imports for both items than the U.S.

The U.S. is the world’s largest oil and natural gas producer, and the sanctions could help its exports to the EU. Meanwhile, the U.S. is among the top producers and exporters of agricultural products like corn and wheat.

Still, the EU’s energy problems are self-inflicted due to a disastrous energy policy, which made it dependent on Russia for its energy needs. As a result, the U.S. is a default partner to find a solution to this problem. In addition, as a leading member of the NATO alliance, the U.S. is the de facto ally to contain Russia’s aggression.

In short, there’s little chance that Beijing would succeed in pulling the EU away from Washington in sanctioning Russia. Meanwhile, by getting closer to Russia, Beijing risks severing its economic relations with its two largest trade partners and finding itself again on the wrong side of history.

By Odoh Dominic Chukwuemeka

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