China has remained undeterred by Washington threats over its deepening ties and closer cooperation with Russia even as the Kremlin commits to military takeover of the Donbas region of Ukraine. On Wednesday Beijing affirmed it will "continue strengthening strategic ties with Russia," according to a top diplomat.
This even as Washington has ramped up the rhetoric seeking to highlight horrific war crimes alleged in places like Bucha, or now Mariupol. While recently the Biden administration admitted it "has not seen" China providing Russia with military equipment, as some prior admin officials alleged was likely happening, the accusation and suspicion has lingered over Beijing, still under Western pressure to come out definitively against the Russian invasion (though it remains that Beijing officials have resisted even using the word "invasion" to describe the conflict).
"No matter how the international landscape may change, China will continue to strengthen strategic coordination with Russia for win-win cooperation, jointly safeguard the common interests of the two countries and promote the building of a new type of international relations and a community with a shared future for mankind,” Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng said in a late Tuesday statement.
Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng on Mon met with #Russian Ambassador Andrey Denisov, saying no matter how the intl situation changes, China will enhance strategic cooperation with Russia to promote a new model of intl relations and a community with a shared future for mankind. pic.twitter.com/5lwWhDRiA3— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) April 19, 2022
The statement, issued via the Chinese Foreign Ministry, came after Le met with Russian envoy Andrey Ivanovich Denisov. The meeting was apparently full of optimism even as unprecedented Western anti-Russia sanctions seek to wreck its economy and bring Iran levels of isolation. According to Bloomberg:
He said that a nearly 30% jump in trade between the nations during the first three months of 2022 demonstrate "the great resilience and internal dynamism of bilateral cooperation."
In return, the Russian envoy was quoted as saying that relations with China continue to be a top "diplomatic priority".
"Russia always regards developing relations with China as its diplomatic priority and is ready to further deepen bilateral comprehensive strategic coordination and all-round practical cooperation in the direction set by the two heads of state, so as to continuously benefit the two peoples and safeguard international equity and justice," Denisov said.
Bloomberg, meanwhile, notes the following: "While bilateral trade did grow in the first quarter, much of that was before the invasion of Ukraine, with Chinese exports to Russia slumping in March to the lowest level since mid-2020, according to data released last week."
"The increasing sanctions on Russia by many nations, the drop in the Russian currency and U.S. efforts to stop Russia from using the dollar probably pushed Chinese firms to hold back on exports," the report adds.
China more than doubled imports of coking coal from Russia in March, procuring the fuel at a discount as other nations ban deliveries— Stephen Stapczynski (@SStapczynski) April 20, 2022
🪨 China imported 1.4 million tons in March, compared to 550,000 tons last year and 1.1 million tons in Februaryhttps://t.co/MBL7kW0TqX pic.twitter.com/pRRF82EARr
The meeting and statements are without doubt only to reinforce NATO countries' voiced suspicions of what's being dubbed China's "no-limits" ties with Moscow. China in return has said Russia's security concerns of NATO expansion are legitimate and that Beijing sees the negotiating table as paramount to ending the fighting in Ukraine, which has killed thousands on both sides.
Seeking to prove this point while flexing its diplomatic muscle, this week China announced it is sending a high-level diplomatic delegation to eight central and eastern European countries to discuss the Ukraine crisis.
"Huo Yuzhen, China's special representative to China-Central and Eastern Europe Cooperation, will head a delegation to the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia and Poland, according to Wang Lutong, the director general of European affairs at China's foreign ministry," The South China Morning Post reported Tuesday.