China has shown its true colors. The regime in Beijing has been an enabler, supporter, underwriter, excuse-maker, and propagandist for Putin’s brutal and unjustified invasion of Ukraine.
Before the war, in a bid to get China to convince Putin to stop his troop buildup along the border, President Biden foolishly shared U.S. intelligence with Beijing. Rather than restraining Moscow, China handed over the cache of American info to Putin.
European leaders would be equally foolish to look to China for help. They must recognize that Beijing is pleased Putin is doing their work for them, pushing to weaken, destabilize, and divide Europe. An effort to restrain Moscow is the last thing the West should expect from Beijing.
Yet false hope still lives in some quarters. The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, recently told the Spanish newspaper El Mundo that he supports Chinese mediation in the Russian-Ukrainian war.
"There is no alternative," he said. "We [Europeans] cannot be the mediators, that is clear.… And it cannot be the U.S., either. Who else? It has to be China; I trust in that."
This is a proposal unconnected to reality.
Let's start by pointing out Xi Jinping is on Putin’s side. At the outbreak of hostilities, Beijing immediately announced it would not join the western financial sanctions against Moscow. It also abstained on the UN resolution strongly condemning the invasion.
Since the invasion, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has described relations between China and Russia as "rock solid." Indeed, China and Russia have issued a joint statement reiterating Beijing’s support for Moscow's position opposing NATO expansion eastward. Moreover, they have consolidated their relationships in the financial and energy sectors.
Why would China want Russia to stop when Putin has served as a stalking horse for all the Chinese Communist Party’s priorities? Beijing hopes that the Ukrainian crisis will stretch the Americans like a rubber band, making the U.S. unable to pay attention to Europe and Asia at the same time.
Beijing is also betting that Russian aggression against Ukraine will weaken NATO and transatlantic relations. Russia and China hope that the dependence of some European countries on Russian gas and French proposals for European strategic autonomy (without the Americas) will further weaken and divide the Atlantic Alliance in a time of crisis. Xi is also banking on the current political and diplomatic crisis making Moscow even more economically dependent on Beijing, making the Kremlin even more compliant in serving’s China interests.
Clearly, putting China in the role of mediator, as Borrell suggests, could only make matters worse for the West. Beijing is interested only in increasing its geopolitical advantage, and this is a risk for the European Union above all. Russia has recently strengthened its gas supply links with China, making it less dependent on Western sales to fuel its economy.
Additionally, both Moscow and Beijing are increasing their influence over large parts of Africa. In particular, the Russians have a growing weight on eastern Libya and the Sahel region. Africa is functional to the geopolitical bloc that China and Russia are building, with the aim of marginalizing the United States and dividing Europeans.
Instead of relying on Beijing, Brussels should therefore strive to counter Sino-Russian geopolitical pressure. It should consolidate transatlantic relations by reestablishing clear energy autonomy, strengthening its borders on land and sea, and building NATO into a stronger military stiff arm to foreign aggression.
It is also time to make hard choices. EU countries, starting with Germany, should reexamine their ties with Beijing. Start by keeping the highly controversial EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment in the "freezer." This is no time to expand economic ties. Biden, for his part, should understand that Beijing is not a reliable mediator, since it has every interest in undermining transatlantic relations.
In the Ukrainian crisis, China is not the solution. It is part of the problem.
This piece originally appeared in Fox News