Despite Ukraine providing military technology to China, Beijing seems more inclined towards Russia in the ongoing war between Moscow and Kyiv. Ukraine has supplied critical military technology to Beijing for years which is not available everywhere, including China's first aircraft carrier, technology for its naval antimissile radar, and advanced jet engines, American newspaper The Washington Post reported on Wednesday.
As horrible as the war is, the opportunity is real. China's desire to be a solely powerful country in the world, and its dependence for arms on Russia, outweighs its relationship with Ukraine, and Beijing has publicly backed Moscow. Ukraine was disappointed with China's action. "There was this expectation that if we had Chinese enterprises and Chinese investment in Ukraine, that would prevent Russia from escalating," Sergiy Gerasymchuk, the deputy director of the Foreign Policy Council's Ukrainian Prism, a think tank in Ukraine, was quoted as saying by The Washington Post.
Meanwhile, Ukraine has also made some changes in its policies in recent years, where policymakers increasingly view China as a "challenge" rather than as a strategic partner, said Yurii Poita of the Asia-Pacific section at the Center for Army, Conversion and Disarmament Studies in Ukraine. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Monday that Russia was his country's "most important strategic partner and abstained from a UN vote to condemn Russia's military operation in Ukraine. China's ironic statements are confusing the world. Once the country said that all the countries' sovereignty and territorial integrity should be respected and upheld, but when it was time to support Ukraine, China backed out and blamed the United States and NATO for the conflict.
China and Ukraine's relationship is not built in the last few years but actually, it evolved at the time in 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed. But their relationship became stronger when the Tiananmen Square massacre took place in 1989, Beijing found Ukraine willing to sell certain advanced military technologies that Russia wouldn't sell to China for competitive reasons.
Ukraine viewed China as a vast market opportunity for its defence suppliers and a regional counterbalance to Russia, The Washington Post said. But, Beijing and Kyiv's strategic partnership cooled after 2014, as Ukraine prioritized joining NATO in the aftermath of Russia's first military operation. As Ukraine sought to align more closely with the United States and E.U., it has pushed China to arms' length, including nixing a 2017 attempt by a Chinese company.
While Ukraine was inclining towards western countries, Russia and China cemented a closer bond, leading to their joint declaration on February 4 that the relationship had "no limits." But China and Ukraine have not confirmed their military trade. "It's as if both sides are purposefully avoiding the military-industry cooperation and don't raise a word about military trade. But in actuality, China is the largest customer of Ukraine's military industry," according to The Washington Post citing a state-run Global Times article published in 2015.