Saturday

4th Feb 2023

China and Russia seek allies against EU sanctions

  • Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov (l) and China's Wang Yi in Guilin, China, on Tuesday (Photo: mid.ru)

China and Russia have called for a UN meeting to seek international support against EU and US human-rights sanctions.

"At a time of increasing global political turbulence, a summit of the permanent members of the UN Security Council is particularly necessary to establish direct dialogue about ways to resolve humankind's common problems", they said in a joint statement on Tuesday (23 March).

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  • US secretary of state Antony Blinken (l) and Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels (Photo: nato.int)

"We oppose the politicisation of human rights issues and reject interference in other countries' internal affairs," they added.

The Western sanctions were the "law of the jungle", Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi also said after meeting Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov the same day in the Chinese city of Guilin.

"Countries should stand together to oppose all forms of unilateral sanctions. These measures will not be embraced by the international community," Wang added, referring to the UN arena.

Lavrov was more outspoken.

He lavished praise on China as Russia's "friend ... strategic partner ... a like-minded country".

But he said "there are no relations with the European Union as an organisation. The entire infrastructure of these relations has been destroyed".

"If Europe broke off these relations ... and we have only individual European countries that want to be guided by their national interests, then this probably objectively leads to the fact that our relations with China are developing faster," Lavrov added.

Wang and Lavrov also discussed crises in Afghanistan and Myanmar, Iran nuclear arms, and corona-vaccine exports to friendly states.

And they are in discussions for China to take part in Russian military drills in Belarus later this year, in what would be China's first simulated military confrontation with Nato.

The China-Russia meeting took place at the same time as Nato foreign ministers' talks in Brussels.

The EU, US, and other Nato powers, one day earlier, blacklisted a handful of Chinese and Russian officials over grave human-rights abuses against the Uighur minority in China and LGBTI people in Russia.

The Nato meeting was the first one attended by US secretary of state Antony Blinken, marking a break from the former Russia-friendly and anti-European administration of president Donald Trump.

Blinken restated America's "ironclad commitment to Nato's Article 5 mutual-defence clause".

And he and Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg told media Nato solidarity was the best way to counter Chinese and Russian behaviour.

"As long as we stand together, we can deal with both a rising China and an assertive and aggressive Russia," Stoltenberg said.

"I fully agree," Blinken said.

Stoltenberg complained Russia had, in recent times, deployed short-range missiles capable of nuclear strikes on most European cities.

Meanwhile, China blacklisted several MEPs, European MPs, and whole committees in the European Parliament and EU Council in reaction to Monday's EU move.

And Stoltenberg compared that to Beijing's attempt to "bully" Norway's Nobel-prize committee back in 2010, when he was prime minister of Norway.

The independent committee honoured a Chinese dissident and China reacted with "a lot of heavy measures [sanctions] against Norway", Stoltenberg said.

Nord Stream 2

The Nato meeting also had to tackle Western disunity, however.

Blinken warned Germany the US would try to stop it from building a gas pipeline with Russia, called Nord Stream 2, using sanctions.

"It's bad for Europe, bad for the United States ... I'll have an opportunity to reiterate that, including the law in the United States which requires us to sanction companies participating in the efforts to complete the pipeline," he said.

"It's no secret we have differences with Turkey, including over the S-400s, and ... actions that it's taken in the Eastern Mediterranean," Blinken also said, referring to Turkey's purchase of Russian 'S400' air-defence systems and its gas-drilling in Cypriot and Greek waters.

But he added: "It's also no secret Turkey is a longstanding and valued ally and one that, I believe, we have a strong interest in keeping anchored to Nato".

EU-China treaty

For its part, the European Commission said it still backed the idea of ratifying a China-EU investment treaty later this year, despite the ill will.

But an EU spokeswoman acknowledged that China's decision to strike at MEPs and their families in its visa-bans might put that in jeopardy.

"It depends how the situation evolves ... We have always said ratification will not take place in a political vacuum," she said.

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