The Ukraine issue is straining China’s ties with the US and the rest of the West; hence, Beijing has turned its attention to mending wounds with its neighbors.
According to analysts, China’s diplomatic frenzy in the last two weeks demonstrates the importance of its neighbors in Beijing’s relationship hierarchy. Following a hectic tour of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nepal, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov last week; he was on his first overseas trip since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Wang also presided over a conference on Afghanistan that included foreign ministers from Russia, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. On Wednesday, the meetings in Anhui province were also attended by the Taliban’s acting foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaki and the US special envoy for Afghanistan.
Following America’s chaotic withdrawal last summer, President Xi Jinping sent a written message emphasizing China’s ambitions in Afghanistan; he promised Beijing’s continued support for the radical Islamic group and the war-torn country; he described it as being at a “critical point of transition from chaos to order.”
Impact of War on the US Ukraine Relation
On Friday, Myanmar’s foreign minister, U Wunna Maung Lwin, had his first visit to a non-Asian nation. Wang assured his colleague that China was ready to assist Myanmar with its economic issues.
Xi has also chimed in on Beijing’s efforts to collect support from its neighbors and emerging nations; lately speaking on the phone with leaders from Cambodia, Indonesia, and South Africa. He also spoke with South Korea’s president-elect, Yoon Suk-yeol, twice, including a phone call the day after the election; despite Yoon’s strong pro-US attitude and promises to be harsher on China.
China began pivoting to Asia after the COVID-19 outbreak broke out over two years ago; hence, observers say its current steps are mostly a response to Washington’s Indo-Pacific policy, a containment plan by Beijing.
Last week, US President Joe Biden informed Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong that the Ukraine issue would not detract from Washington’s Indo-Pacific strategy implementation.