Mikhail Podoliak has threatened Beijing with economic ruin if it continues to ‘stay away’
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s top adviser Mikhail Podoliak said China must follow the West’s stance on Ukraine or “lose its influence, including economic”. Beijing has given no indication of its intention to follow his advice.
“Now China has to make a choice,” Podoliak told Ukrainian Rada television on Friday. “Either it works within the framework defined by international law, then replaces Russia in the full sense of the term, or China continues to stand aside and then it will gradually lose its influence, including economic.”
Podoliak’s statement came two days after Zelensky and Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke by phone, their first known conversation since the Russian military operation began in Ukraine last February. According to the Chinese side, Xi pointed out that Beijing “central post” about the conflict is that “Dialogue and negotiations are the only viable way out.”
The United States has repeatedly called on China to condemn Russia for the conflict, which Beijing has refused to do. Instead, China and Russia have deepened diplomatic and trade ties, and officials from both countries have repeatedly condemned the United States for trying to impose what they call a “rules-based international order” on the world through military force and sanctions.
China and Russia instead called for building a multipolar system based on the rule of international law and respect for the UN charter. “Right now there are changes – that we haven’t seen in 100 years – and we are the ones driving those changes together,” Xi told Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow last month.
Podoliak has already tried to drive a wedge between Moscow and Beijing. Late last month, he asked Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera why China “help Russia, which is experiencing the collapse of its civilization?”
“It would be an irreversible investment, and China is too pragmatic to make such mistakes,” he added.
However, even if China were to break with Russia, it would still face a United States hostile to its interests. The Pentagon’s most recent list of national defense strategies against the supposed “threat posed by China” as its number one priority, while Washington has blocked the sale of certain semiconductor manufacturing equipment to China and rallied its Asian allies to exclude Beijing from this vital industrial sector.
Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden has repeatedly said he will use the US military to defend Taiwan – which China considers its territory – against a possible Chinese invasion.
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