By Anjan Roy
So much for the much vaunted solidarity in the free world. The liberal and democratic nations of western Europe and America had vowed they were all standing firmly behind the besieged Ukraine to defend the free world against alleged Russian autocracy.
The wide-ranging sanctions against Russia are starting to bite the western nations possibly more than the country the sanctions were meant to hit. Price of oil has gone up and now looks like set to hit unsustainable levels.
The sanctions, the adverse effect of the war on global economic prospects and slowing down of growth rates, spiralling prices have imposed huge burdens on all. Western countries. But the ever pampered western world is feeling all the more harshly, because they are not used to such hardships.
However, for now, the united facade is getting rather porous. There are apparent chinks in the armour. At least some countries are seeking to look after themselves, rather than to defend the concept of freedom and self-determination or for that matter territorial integrity of smaller nations.
The French president, Emmanuel Macron, is currently visiting China, hopeful that Beijing should be able to strike out a peace path to end the on-going war.
European Commission chief, Ursula von Der Leyen. Is also expected to join Mr Macron though she has not so far appeared on the scene.
There is the unstated view that such efforts to bring about peace in Ukraine, through the Chinese, is at best a naive approach. This is expression of desperate day dreaming. Already, there are criticisms from a small country about the French initiative and Latvian foreign minister had said that China could not be mediator in Ukraine war.
The reason is that China had already placed a white paper on foreign policy where it has argued for an immediate cease fire in Ukraine, without mentioning anything about Russian withdrawal from the country. This made clear where China’s sympathies lay in the matter and there is widespread opposition to accepting any of the Chinese proposals.
China has also not condemned Russian aggression in Ukraine and the Chinese president has not so far spoken to his Ukrainian counterpart ever since the war started. Meanwhile Chinese president has been courting with his “best friend” in Moscow.
Immediately before Russia had launched its invasion in Ukraine, the two countries —China and Russia— represented by their presidents announced a “limitless friendship between them. This has been repeated umpteenth number of time by the two leaders.
It looks as though the real motive behind the French president’s trip to Beijing is to give a leg up to French businesses. Immediately, the French are hopeful of selling large number of aircraft manufactured in France to the Chinese. The French president is travelling with 50 chief executives and businessmen to push up the prospects of more Chinese orders and purchases.
This gives the lie to the so-called solidarity among the European countries in support of Ukraine’s struggle for retaining its independence. True, many of the European Union member states have supplies weapons and arms to Ukraine for fighting the Russians.
The Chinese have been trying to drive a wedge between the US and its European allies in handling the Ukraine crisis. The unity among western countries has been so far the main sustaining factor for Ukraine to meet the Russian threat. France, seeing its own economic self interests suffer has now embarked on a unilateral effort to re-establish ties with the Chinese.
The French move will no doubt embolden the Russians in their pursuit of Ukraine territories. The Russians have been seeking to bring a division among the Europeans to further its own agenda.
On the other hand, Chinese will find the French a compliant nation accomplice in its attitude of self aggrandisement. The Chinese has set an agenda for expanding its territories far beyond the present on specious grounds similar to the Russians’ logic of imperial extension.
The Chinese for example have renamed 11 places in India’s Arunachal Pradesh and cleaning that these are all Chinese territories. Even earlier, they played he same trick of renaming places in India as evidence that these were Chinese territories.
Foreign ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi, in a press statement said that Chinese renaming did not make any changes on ground. Arunachal Pradesh has for ever been a part of India and will remain to in future.
The French are only titillating to the Chinese ego by calling them as the negotiator of peace in Ukraine. The end results might not be any different from the current stalemate at Bakhmut even after Macron visit. On the other hand, China is exuding with confidence by successfully brokering peace between Saudi Arabia and Iran to the great antagonism of the USA.
However, he might be successful in selling a few Airbus aircraft to the Chinese and score some brownie points against USA and the Boeing Company. (IPA Service)