China tells Russia it understands its ‘legitimate security concerns’Author: Yuvi February 24, 2022
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi speaks to Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov hours after the invasion of Ukraine
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on Thursday that Beijing “understands” Moscow’s “legitimate security concerns”. Mr Wang’s comments in a phone call on Thursday underscored Beijing’s broad support for Russia over the Ukraine issue, even as its diplomats called for a return to diplomacy. However, the diplomatic process has been completely derailed after the invasion of Russia.
Beijing has not explicitly endorsed or criticized Russia’s actions, although Mr Wang’s comments could clearly be construed as an offer of support. In the phone call, Mr. Wang said, “China has always respected the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries.” “At the same time,” he said, “the Ukraine issue has a complex and specific historical latitude and longitude, and China understands Russia’s legitimate security concerns.”
He also criticized NATO and called for a “balanced, effective and sustainable European security mechanism”, which “absolutely abandons the Cold War mentality”.
Chinese media widely supported Russia and focused most of its coverage on NATO and Russia’s wider security concerns. Yang Jin, a scholar at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, was quoted as saying, “I believe that Russia’s military operation is Moscow’s response to Western countries’ long-standing pressure on Russia, showing that Moscow Can’t stand it anymore.” The Global Times, run by the Communist Party, said.
Meanwhile, the Chinese embassy in Ukraine has warned citizens to stay home, but has not indicated any plans to evacuate them. In a notice that went viral on Chinese social media, the embassy asked Chinese citizens to display the Chinese flag on their cars if they are traveling long distances.
Chinese media reports also highlighted Beijing’s ability to support Moscow in the face of sanctions. On Thursday, Chinese customs approved imports of wheat from Russia, an indicator that China will remain open for business. China is Russia’s largest trading partner and accounts for about 20% of its total foreign trade, while two-way trade increased 35% last year to $147 billion.