China and India Respond to Provocations by von der Leyen et al.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen used her opening speech at India’s Raisina Dialogue April 25 to deliver the standard narrative on the “rules-based” order, telling her international audience that Russia and China are the enemies. To India, she offered the (unasked for) advice that it should rather stick with the European Union and economic, trade, and military deals offered by the “democratic” West. She also met privately with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during which she undoubtedly also criticized India’s neutral stance on Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine, refusal to condemn Russia at the UN, and ongoing trade and economic relationship with Russia.

In her speech to the Raisina Dialogue, the Commission President delivered the usual attacks on Russia for violating the U.N. Charter, committing horrific war crimes, threatening European security, etc. But she also attacked China’s attempts to expand its “spheres of influence”, including through the Belt and Road Initiative. Above all, she warned of the danger of the Russia-China agreement of February, which states there their friendship “has no limits” and that there are “no forbidden areas of cooperation”.

Other diplomats from Norway and Luxembourg boldly criticized India’s stance on the Ukraine conflict, which prompted India’s Foreign Minister Jaishankar to remind the Europeans that there are also “pressing issues in other parts of the world”, not just Europe. For example, he asked where was the West’s “rules-based order” in Afghanistan, “when an entire civil society was thrown under the bus by the world.”

China was also in the forefront of the speech at the Dialogue presented by Admiral John Aquilino, the head of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. He insisted that the “no limits” cooperation between Moscow and Beijing poses a problem for Western countries which would require the development of a “great deterrence” to confront it, using all forms of technology.

In response, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian stated that China and Russia have risen above the Cold War era of military alliances and “zero sum games”, and instead commit themselves to “developing a new model of international relations on the basis of non-alliance, non-confrontation and non-targeting of third countries”. The crisis in Ukraine, he added, is undoubtedly due to NATO’s Eastward expansion, and the U.S. seeks to prolong the conflict to weaken Russia.

As for London’s policy, an editorial in China’s Global Times lambasted British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss for her speech on “The Return of Geopolitics” (cf. above), in which she suggested that NATO “must ensure that democracies like Taiwan are able to defend themselves”. Her remarks are called “the most blatant and ambitious statements among those made by U.S. and Western politicians for a while about ‘the globalization of NATO’.”

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