Chinese state propaganda outlets pilloried leftist President Joe Biden for making a surprise visit to Kyiv, Ukraine, on Monday, describing his in-person meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky as “irrational and selfish.”
Zelensky, who endured an acrimonious relationship with Biden prior to Russia’s full-scale invasion of his country last year, had been urging Biden to visit Ukraine for over a year with no success. Biden planned a visit to nearby Poland this week, marking the one-year anniversary of the Russian “special operation,” but arrived in Ukraine first.
In Kyiv, Biden announced another $500 million aid package to the Ukrainian war effort; he arrived in Poland on Tuesday.
The Chinese Communist Party is one of Russia’s closest allies on the international stage but has abstained from a full-throated defense of the invasion of Ukraine. Ukraine enjoys friendly ties with Beijing and is a member of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a global infrastructure plan in which China offers predatory loans to poor countries to be used to pay Chinese companies to build roads, ports, and railways, among other projects. Zelensky has expressed interest in having China help rebuild Ukraine after the war.
The Global Times, a Chinese state-run propaganda newspaper, predicted on Monday that Biden’s presence in Ukraine would invite “a more aggressive counterstrike from Russia” against the country.
“[O]bservers called the trip ‘irrational and selfish,’ while disregarding that the visit may trigger a more aggressive counterstrike from Russia,” the newspaper asserted, citing Chinese government-approved “experts.”
“Experts said the dangerous signals sent from this trip will escalate the conflict,” the outlet continued. “Apparently, Biden is pushing Ukraine to act as a pawn to defeat Russia, but the goal is dangerous and irrational.”
While warning of greater Russian belligerence, the Chinese newspaper dismissed the aid that Biden announced to the Ukrainian armed forces as not “a game-changer.”
Hu Xijin, the former top editor of the Global Times demoted after the newspaper’s poor cover-up of the disappearance of tennis star Peng Shuai, directly accused Biden’s visit of causing more deaths.
“President Biden paid a sudden visit to Kyiv on Monday. This suggests that more Ukrainian and Russian people may die,” Hu said in Monday’s installment of his video series “Hu Says.”
“Biden’s appearance in Kyiv is intended to boost Ukrainian morale while also bolstering confidence among European allies. More and more Europeans are eager to see negotiations start but with Biden’s arrival, which is to supervise the war, the path to negotiations has been effectively blocked,” he claimed.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry, which speaks more officially for the totalitarian communist government, also condemned Biden’s appearance in Ukraine, though less directly accusing him of essentially killing Russians and Ukrainians than Hu did.
“We have noted reports about President Biden’s visit to Ukraine,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters on Tuesday. “What has happened over the past 12 months has shown that conflicts produce no winner and dialogue and negotiation is the only way out.”
“All parties, especially major countries, should act in a responsible manner, create conditions conducive to peace talks, and do more things that would contribute to a political settlement rather than fan the flames or profit from the situation,” Wang asserted. “China has been on the side of peace and justice. We will continue to play a constructive part in promoting peace talks.”
While condemning Biden for his visit, the Chinese government has had to field questions about its own potentially deepening involvement in the war. China has abstained from any concrete support for either side of the war, outside of condemning sanctions on Russia and calling for peace talks. This week, however, following Biden’s trip, Beijing is sending top Politburo member Wang Yi, the former foreign minister, to Moscow to cement ties with Russia.
“China would like to take the opportunity of this visit to work with Russia to promote the steady growth of the bilateral relations in the direction identified by our presidents,” Wang Wenbin told reporters on Tuesday of Wang Yi’s travel, “safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of both sides, and play a positive role for world peace.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused China of contemplating selling weapons to Russia this weekend, which would also escalate tensions in the war. The Chinese government insisted last year that it would not sell arms to Moscow because “Russia does not need China or other countries to provide it with weapons.”
“For the most part, China has been engaged in providing rhetorical, political, diplomatic support to Russia,” Blinken told ABC’s This Week on Sunday, “but we have information that gives us concern that they are considering providing lethal support to Russia in the war against Ukraine.”
Wang Wenbin responded to Blinken’s statements by describing them as “false” and accusing America of worsening the Ukraine conflict.
“The US is the biggest source of weaponry for the battlefield in Ukraine. Just yesterday, the US side announced a further $500 million worth of military aid to Ukraine,” Wang Wenbin said on Tuesday. “It makes people wonder what the US is up to by falsely claiming that China is offering weapons, and whether the US finds it conscionable to tell the world it wants peace and yet sit and watch its defense industry lining up their pocket.”
While China has denied accusations of preparing a weapons sale to Russia, the Ukrainian government has attempted politely discourage Beijing from any such involvement. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba met with Wang Yi in Munich this weekend, reportedly using the opportunity to urge China to help discourage further Russian aggression.
Zelensky addressed concerns China may soon arm Russia on Monday by predicting that heavy Chinese involvement in the conflict would result in “World War III.”
“I have personally appealed to the Chinese leadership through direct and public channels not to provide any support to the Russians in this war. And I hope Beijing takes a pragmatic approach, otherwise we risk getting World War III. I think they understand it well,” Zelensky told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.
“We have had intensive economic relations for many years, and it is in everyone’s interest that they do not change,” Zelensky emphasized, however, referring to China.