Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said South China Morning Post on Thursday that he would like to discuss his country’s war against Russia with the leader of Russia’s closest ally Xi Jinping “directly” and called on China to help rebuild Ukraine once the war ends.
Zelensky’s discussion with Morning post, a Hong Kong newspaper, was the first with an Asian news outlet since Russia escalated its eight-year war against Ukraine in a full-scale invasion in February. Zelensky used the opportunity to ask for a one-on-one talk with Xi, a genocidal communist dictator who is largely financing the invasion of Ukraine through large purchases of cheap Russian oil and gas.
Ukraine is a member of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a global program to trap poor countries in predatory loans to China that they cannot afford. The loans are nominally intended to pay for China’s massive infrastructure projects. China was also Ukraine’s top trading partner before the war. Last year, Zelensky said he hoped Ukraine would become a “bridge to Europe” for Chinese influence in his latest conversation with Xi.
While he welcomed Chinese funding and did not criticize China for maintaining a strong alliance with Russia throughout this year’s invasion, Zelensky was slightly more critical of the Chinese Communist Party than his predecessors, imposing unilateral sanctions on the world’s second-largest economy last year after a Chinese company. tried to buy a key Ukrainian defense company.
In conversation with the Morning postZelensky expressed hope that China would help “put the Russian Federation [in] a certain place” economically and said he personally would like China to “revise its stance” on Russia.
“It is a very powerful state. It is a strong economy… So it (can) influence Russia politically, economically. And China is [also a] permanent member of the United Nations Security Council,” the newspaper quoted Zelensky as saying in a 40-minute interview. “This is a war on our soil, they came to invade. China, being a big and powerful country, could come down and sort of put the Russian Federation [in] a certain place.”
The Ukrainian president reportedly expressed frustration over inaction on the invasion of his country by the Security Council, where China serves as a permanent veto-wielding member.
“Why have the Security Council if any country … or many countries in the world, could just decide to break the rules militarily?” asked.
Zelensky noted that Xi had personally visited Ukraine in the past and said he believed a direct conversation with him — rather than Chinese diplomats — could benefit Kyiv.
“I would like to speak directly. I had a conversation with [President] Xi Jinping was a year ago,” Zelensky recalled. “Since the beginning of the large-scale attack on February 24, we have formally requested a conversation, but we (have) not had any conversation with China, even though I think that would be helpful.”
Zelensky also expressed hope that China will play a role in the reconstruction of Ukraine once the war ends, encouraging “China, Chinese enterprises” to enter the Ukrainian market.
“I really wish the whole world would do it [unite] above this process. It is very difficult for us to overcome this,” the president was quoted as saying.
Zelensky’s comments in Morning post the comments he made on Wednesday at an event with students in Australia, according to a government agency report Ukrinform.
“Today, I would like China to join the unified international position on Russia’s tyranny against Ukraine. I wish they would. It hasn’t happened so far,” Zelensky was quoted as saying. “China is standing on the sidelines. Today, China balances, maintaining neutrality. I will say frankly, this neutrality is much better than China joining Russia.”
Zelensky stressed that it is “important” for Kyiv that China does not “help” Russia, arguing that Beijing is trying to remain neutral. Zelensky similarly justified China’s role in the war — nominally not supporting Russia but in practice keeping its economy afloat — in comments in May.
“China has chosen the policy of staying away. At the moment, Ukraine is satisfied with this policy. It’s better than helping the Russian Federation in any case,” Zelensky said he said in a message to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Xi Jinping has focused heavily on promoting Chinese business and the BRI in particular over the past year. As far as commenting on the Ukraine war, the Kremlin claimed in June that the dictator told his Russian counterpart Putin that he confirmed the “legality” of Russia’s invasion. Chinese officials have neither confirmed nor denied the claim.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying addresses the request to speak with Xi Jinping during her regular briefing on Thursday, offering some clarity.
“China maintains close communication with Ukraine and other parts of the Ukrainian crisis,” Hua said, without elaborating.
The vast majority of Hua’s time on the floor Thursday – and every other briefing this week – was devoted to condemning the United States after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) visited Taipei, Taiwan, this week , a sovereign nation that China falsely claims as its own. China is currently engaged in missile launches and an unofficial blockade of the neighboring country, arguing that Pelosi’s presence anywhere in Taiwan is a violation of Chinese sovereignty. China has no legal authority over Taiwan, and the country has never in its history been ruled by any Beijing-based regime.
The escalation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which began with the colonization of the Ukrainian region of Crimea in 2014, has prompted many comparisons around the world between this situation and a possible Chinese invasion of Taiwan. Zelensky did not elaborate on the comparison but, in an interview in June, urged the world to defend Taiwan before the invasion began, rather than extend support afterward, as it had done with Ukraine.
“We must not leave them behind at the mercy of another country that is stronger economically, territorially and in terms of equipment,” Zelensky said. Washington Post. “And therefore, if there is a way out diplomatically, we have to use the diplomatic way. But it has to be a preventive way, not one that comes after the start of the war.”
The Chinese Communist Party largely condemned her Washington Post to interview Zelensky after these comments were published without attacking Zelensky personally.