President Xi Jinping has said his friendship with Vladimir Putin has â€śno limitsâ€ť. So what does he make of Russiaâ€™s invasion of Ukraine?
â€śFew global leaders have gone to Beijing to be at the opening but the Russian president Vladimir Putin is there.â€ťÂBBC News
In early February, Russian president Vladimir Putin arrived in Beijing on a rare foreign visit for the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics.
â€śThis morning he held a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping who gave his support to Russiaâ€™s security and foreign policy aims.â€ťÂBBC News
The two leaders signed a 5,000 word statement pledging no limits to their cooperation. They promised to work together on artificial intelligence, Climate Change, space exploration, and control of the internet.
China also gave its backing to Russiaâ€™s demand that the Nato alliance of western countries stops admitting new members.
So there was little surprise when Chinaâ€™s foreign minister said the ties between the two countries were â€śrock solidâ€ť.Â
Because in all of their discussions, Russia and China appeared united on one thing they both see as a problem: Western expansion.
Four day after the Beijing Winter Games ended Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine, an attack the west was quick to condemn while Chinaâ€™s diplomats maintained a studied silence.
And when the United Nations Security Council attempted to adopt a resolution condemning the invasion, China made its position clearâ€¦
â€śThe resolution did gain support of 11 members of the Council with China, India, and the United Arab Emirates abstainingâ€¦â€ťAlJazeera
But almost three weeks into the invasion, Vladimir Putinâ€™s war isnâ€™t going to plan.
According to the Financial Times, US intelligence believes Russia has asked China for military equipment.Â
It reported the request came after the start of the conflict in Ukraine and that the US has told allies that China signalled its willingness to help.
So where does President Xi Jinping stand on Russiaâ€™s invasion of Ukraine?
Earlier this week, the USâ€™s National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan had a meeting in Rome.
It was with Yang Jiechi, Chinaâ€™s top foreign policy official. And although the talks were planned in early December, the Ukraine crisis dominated the seven hour discussion.
Beijing accused Washington of spreading disinformation.
â€śChinaâ€™s stance on the Ukraine issue has been consistent and clear. We have been playing a constructive role in making peace through dialogue. The current priority is to exercise restrains from all sides to calm the tension rather than adding fuel to the fire, to work out a diplomatic solution rather than further escalating the situationâ€ťZhao Lijian, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, Bloomberg News
While the US expressed â€śdeep concernsâ€ť about what it called Chinaâ€™s â€śalignmentâ€ť with Russia. Hereâ€™s Jake Sullivan:
â€śWe are communicating directly, privately to Beijing, that there will absolutely be consequences for large-scale sanctions of Beijingâ€™s efforts of support for Russia to backfill themâ€¦ we will not allow that to go forward and allow that to be a lifeline to Russia from these economic sanctions from any country anywhere in the world.â€ťJake Sullivan
The sanctions imposed on Russia donâ€™t just impact its economy, theyâ€™ll have a knock on effect on the global economy too, which is bad news for China.
President Xi has said sanctions could â€śdampen the global economy,â€ť something that he says is â€śin the interest of no oneâ€ť.
Because for him, and for China, economic domination is more important than its military power. China wants to have the worldâ€™s largest economy and Vladimir Putinâ€™s actions arenâ€™t helping.
The EUâ€™s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, has said that China is the only possible mediator in the war.
But there is a reason that Beijing might be reluctant to play peacemaker. It has long-term ambitions to return the democratic, self-governing island of Taiwan to China, which it claims is its territory.
â€śKiev and Taipei, two capitals, half a world apart, one under siege, the other on edge. I worry this may happen to Taiwan, he saysâ€¦ if war breaks out itâ€™s bad for both sides, it will be a tragedyCNN
Directly helping Moscow though, would lead to the West targeting China with sanctions too, frustrating its economic rise.
â€śXi Jinping will not keep to his promise of unlimited friendship and rock solid support for Russia if it means that China will face real and serious economic sanctions from the United States in a year when Xi Jinpingâ€™s priority is to maintain stability and a strong economy so that he can secure his own third term in office. That is the real priority.â€ťSteve Tsang, DirectorÂ of SOASÂ China Institute
So for now, it seems President Xi is remaining strategically ambiguous towards his Russian allyâ€™s actions in Ukraine.
Todayâ€™s story was written and produced by Imy Harper.
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