Analysis: Have China and India shifted stance on Russia war?

Nov 17, 2022, 2:50 AM | Updated: 2:55 am
FILE - Chinese President Xi Jinping attends a session at the G20 Leaders' Summit in Nusa Dua, Bali,...

FILE - Chinese President Xi Jinping attends a session at the G20 Leaders' Summit in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. China and India, after months of refusing to condemn Russia’s war in Ukraine, did not stand in the way of the public release this week of a statement by the world’s leading economies that strongly criticizes Moscow. (Willy Kurniawan/Pool Photo via AP, File)

(Willy Kurniawan/Pool Photo via AP, File)

NUSA DUA, Indonesia (AP) — China and India, after months of refusing to condemn Russia’s war in Ukraine, did not stand in the way of the release this week of a statement by the world’s leading economies that strongly criticizes Moscow.

Could this, at last, signal a bold new policy change by Beijing and New Delhi to align themselves with what the United States and its allies believe is the best way to end a war that has brought death and misery to Ukraine and disrupted millions of lives as food and energy prices soar and economies crack?

There’s certainly an eagerness by a world weary of war to see it as the beginning of a shift by the burgeoning global powers.

Look close enough, however, and there’s enough subtlety, not to mention spots of vagueness, in both the official statement released at the end of the Group of 20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, and in actions from China and India themselves, to raise questions about whether a real change is underway.

Their positions will become clearer in coming weeks, but for now both nations, which have significant trade ties with Russia and have so far stopped short of outright criticism of the war, may simply be looking out for their own interests and keeping future options open.

Figuring out what exactly happened in Bali matters because there’s growing worry that without political and diplomatic pressure by China and India, Russia will be far less likely to end its war.

The conflict in Ukraine loomed large over the two-day summit on Bali, which was attended by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. News early Wednesday of an explosion that rocked eastern Poland prompted U.S. President Joe Biden to hastily arrange an emergency meeting with Group of Seven and NATO members at the summit.

The backroom wrangling at the G-20 over how to address Russia’s invasion in its statement was “very, very tough,” summit host Indonesian President Joko Widodo said.

“Most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine and stressed it is causing immense human suffering and exacerbating existing fragilities in the global economy,” the statement said.

The less-than-universal language — “most members” — signals the presence of dissent, as does an acknowledgement that “there were other views and different assessments” and that the G-20 is “not the forum to resolve security issues.”

The final product, however, was seen by some as a strong rebuke of a war that has killed thousands, heightened global security tensions and disrupted the world economy.

The public statement used language from a March U.N. resolution that deplored “in the strongest terms the aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine” and demanded “its complete and unconditional withdrawal” from Ukrainian territory.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the G-20 summit’s “surprisingly clear words” on Ukraine “wouldn’t have been possible if important countries hadn’t helped us to come together this way — that includes India and it also includes, for example, South Africa.”

“This is something which shows that there are many in the world who don’t think this war is right, who condemn it, even if they abstained in the votes at the United Nations for various reasons,” Scholz said. “And I am sure that this is one of the results of this summit: the Russian president stands almost alone in the world with his policy.”

John Kirton, director of the G-20 Research Group, called it a “big breakthrough” and an “active shift” by China and India in which they joined the “democratic side of the great immediate geopolitical divide.”

Privately, however, some diplomats were wary about declaring that China has shifted its stance on Russia.

Chinese President Xi Jinping may have simply made a decision to not be seen as a spoiler or outlier during face-to-face meetings with other leaders in Bali. The statement also allows China to avoid going all-in with a Russia that is looking more and more isolated as it increases attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure.

What Beijing hasn’t done is change — or even publicly question — its fundamental relations with Russia.

China has closely aligned its foreign policy with Russia in recent years, as pipeline projects and natural gas sales have brought them closer economically.

It has refused to publicly criticize Russia’s aggression or even refer to it as an invasion, while criticizing sanctions and accusing the United States and NATO of provoking Putin, although it has warned against allowing the conflict to go nuclear.

Just weeks before Moscow’s invasion, the Russian and Chinese leaders met in Beijing, where they signed a joint statement affirming that their bilateral relationship had “no” limits.

It was unclear whether China pushed for the softening language in the G-20 statement acknowledging “other views and different assessments” and that the G-20 is “not the forum to resolve security issues,” but Shi Yinhong, professor of international relations at Beijing’s Renmin University, said it has pushed for such phrases on other occasions.

For India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also avoided criticism of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Modi, however, indicated for the first time in public India’s discomfort with the attack when he met Putin in September.

“I know that today’s era is not of war,” Modi told Putin.

That message “resonated very deeply across all the delegations and helped to bridge the gap across different parties and contributed to the successful outcome of the document” in Bali, Indian Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra told reporters.

Navdeep Suri, a retired Indian diplomat, said he sees a subtle shift in India’s position in dealing with Russia.

China, however, may be “in a far more awkward position than India because China is the one that promised unlimited support to Russia a few days before the invasion,” Suri said. “China has (now) gone along with such tough language, including the unconditional and complete withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukraine.”

Dilip Sinha, another retired Indian diplomat, noted that India continues to buy oil, to trade with Russia and to abstain from U.N. resolutions critical of Russia.

“There is a feeling of bravado in India that it has its way. I don’t see any change at all in India’s policy on Russia on the war in Ukraine,” Sinha said.

___

Foster Klug, AP’s news director for the Koreas, Japan, Australia and the South Pacific, has covered Asia since 2005.

___

Associated Press writer Ashok Sharma in New Delhi contributed to this story.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


              FILE - India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, speaks with Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar at the G20 Leaders' Summit, in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, Wednesday Nov. 16, 2022. India and China, after months of refusing to condemn Russia’s war in Ukraine, did not stand in the way of the public release this week of a statement by the world’s leading economies that strongly criticizes Moscow. (Willy Kurniawan/Pool Photo via AP, File)
            
              FILE - Chinese President Xi Jinping attends a session at the G20 Leaders' Summit in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. China and India, after months of refusing to condemn Russia’s war in Ukraine, did not stand in the way of the public release this week of a statement by the world’s leading economies that strongly criticizes Moscow. (Willy Kurniawan/Pool Photo via AP, File)

AP

FILE - San Francisco Giants' Barry Bonds hits a single against the Chicago Cubs during the third in...
Associated Press

Bonds, Clemens left out of Hall again; McGriff elected

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling were passed over by a Baseball Hall of Fame committee that elected former big league slugger Fred McGriff to Cooperstown on Sunday. It was the first time that Bonds, Clemens and Schilling had faced a Hall committee since their 10th and final appearances on […]
19 hours ago
FILE - Capital murder defendant and former U.S. Border Patrol Juan David Ortiz looks around the cou...
Associated Press

Jurors hear ex-Border Patrol agent’s confession in killings

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Jurors in the capital murder trial of a former U.S. Border Patrol agent have heard a taped interview in which he confesses to the 2018 killings of four sex workers in South Texas. If convicted of capital murder, Juan David Ortiz, 39, faces life in prison without parole because prosecutors are […]
19 hours ago
FILE - A Twitter logo hangs outside the company's San Francisco offices on Nov. 1, 2022. A top Euro...
Associated Press

As Musk is learning, content moderation is a messy job

Now that he’s back on Twitter, neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin wants somebody to explain the rules. Anglin, the founder of an infamous neo-Nazi website, was reinstated Thursday, one of many previously banned users to benefit from an amnesty granted by Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk. The next day, Musk banished Ye, the rapper formerly known as […]
19 hours ago
FILE - In this photo taken by an individual not employed by the Associated Press and obtained by th...
Associated Press

Iran morality police status unclear after ‘closure’ comment

CAIRO (AP) — An Iranian lawmaker said Sunday that Iran’s government is “paying attention to the people’s real demands,” state media reported, a day after a top official suggested that the country’s morality police whose conduct helped trigger months of protests has been shut down. The role of the morality police, which enforces veiling laws, […]
19 hours ago
Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at the J Street National Conference at the Omni Shoreham H...
Associated Press

Blinken vows US support for Israel despite unease over gov’t

WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday the U.S. will not shrink from its unwavering support for Israel despite stark differences with Prime Minister-elect Benjamin Netanyahu and concerns the Biden administration may have about potential members of his incoming right-wing government. Speaking to a left-leaning group that some on the right accuse […]
19 hours ago
Associated Press

Farmer: Georgia dog injured saving sheep from coyote attack

DECATUR, Ga. (AP) — A Georgia sheepdog is recovering at home two days after killing a pack of coyotes that attacked his owner’s flock of sheep, farmer John Wierwiller said. Casper, a 20-month old Great Pyrenees from Decatur, fought off a pack of coyotes who were threatening Wierwiller’s sheep farm, he said. The fight lasted […]
19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...
DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
Analysis: Have China and India shifted stance on Russia war?