China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, has cast himself as a global statesman, helping Saudi Arabia and Iran broker a deal to restore diplomatic ties while extolling the virtues of “Chinese solutions and wisdom” in solving the world’s biggest security challenges.
Now, Mr. Xi is putting himself at the center of Russia’s war with Ukraine, working to portray himself as a mediator who could cool down the protracted fight.
The Chinese leader is expected to meet in person next week with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, and a call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine could follow. China has already proposed a peace settlement, though it does not address important details such as whether Russian troops would withdraw. In announcing Mr. Xi’s visit to Russia, a Chinese official on Friday said it was “for the sake of peace.”
At stake for Beijing is its push for legitimacy as leader of an alternative world order to the one dominated by the United States, a role it has sought with growing urgency to resist what Mr. Xi described as Washington’s “containment, encirclement and suppression of China.”
Skepticism abounds in the West about Mr. Xi’s intentions on the war, given his conflicting goals and interests. Beijing has never condemned Russia’s invasion and parrots the Kremlin’s assertion that the war was provoked by the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. [Continue reading…]