From the guarded wording of reports and the low-key media coverage as well as the body language as such by both sides regarding the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s ‘working visit’ to Beijing on Tuesday, China apparently showed reluctance to be drawn into Moscow’s current tensions with the West over Ukraine. Interestingly, from Beijing Lavrov headed for Hanoi.
In a crisply-worded statement reported by Chinese television, President Xi Jinping stressed the importance of high-level exchanges between the two countries and the strengthening of “collaboration” in international and regional affairs. But Xi merely “exchanged views” with Lavrov “on the crisis in Ukraine”.
The Chinese news agency Xinhua has been giving full coverage to the Ukrainian official narrative alleging a Russian hand in the disturbances in eastern and southern Ukraine. During Lavrov’s visit, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi stuck to Beijing’s “fair and unbiased attitude” to the Ukraine crisis and expressed disapproval of moves that may destabilize the situation in Ukraine.
Wang repeated the Chinese call for creating “a multilateral dialogue mechanism”. The Xinhua version mentioned Ukraine en passe.The contrast with the Russian media build-up leading to Lavrov’s arrival in Beijing couldn’t be sharper.
Notably, any Russian move at this juncture to cancel the 4-party meeting in Geneva on Thursday against the backdrop of the military crackdown in eastern Ukraine would be at odds with the Chinese position. Lavrov had earlier underlined that such a crackdown would prompt Moscow to scuttle the Geneva meeting. (READ MORE ..........)