New Delhi: Being tied to Russia is not the most preferred option for China, said former National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon Wednesday while speaking about the implications of the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“That’s essentially what the war has done,” Menon said of China’s position, adding that the country for the first time was “powerful but dependent” on the world for markets, energy, food, technology and more.
He also pointed out that the Ukraine war has turned into a “big dilemma” for China when it came to its plans to expand the Belt and Road initiative into Central Asia, Russia and the larger European region.
Menon was speaking at an event hosted by the Centre for Social and Economic Progress (CSEP) in New Delhi.
Martin Wolf, chief economics commentator at the Financial Times who was also present at the event, offered a caveat. “Russia does offer one thing to China which is very significant — resource dependence. But Russia is a problematic entity for China to invest in,” he said.
In early February, before the Ukraine war started, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a joint statement in which they stated that the friendship between the two countries had “no limits” and that there were no forbidden areas in their bilateral cooperation.
“I don’t believe Xi — when he was talking to Putin — thought he was giving a blank cheque for this,” remarked Wolf, referring to the joint statement between Moscow and Beijing.
The British journalist added that Western sanctions on Russia were here to stay for the “indefinite future”, and if the war were to end, it would be likely due to “exhaustion” on both sides instead of an agreed ceasefire or formal peace agreement.
‘West risks losing the Global South’
During the discussion, Menon said by focusing on the war and Europe, the West risked losing the Global South which was feeling the ripples of the war be it via debt-crisis risks or basic development and infrastructure issues.
The Global South is a reference to third world countries in Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Oceania. India is also considered part of this term.
“There are four big risks that the world faces (due to the war), though it is a sweet spot for India. One, the West risks losing the Global South because it’s so involved in Ukraine and the question of the European order,” said Menon.
He added: “The Global South is facing debt-crisis risks, climate affects, and basic development issues. The Chinese are bidding but that doesn’t mean the Global South wants to go with them.”
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