In private conversations, Chinese envoys express distrust of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, and are trying to improve relations with the West, the Financial Times reported on Jan. 10.
According to FT’s sources, China is trying to improve relations with some Western countries and is paying particular attention to ties with Europe, which have been “severely damaged” due to Beijing's support of Russia throughout the war in Ukraine.
Beijing is attempting to “unofficially” convince its European partners that it’s ready to use its influence to deter Putin from using nuclear weapons, act as a potential “peacemaker,” and signals readiness to help with the post-war reconstruction of Ukraine, FT wrote.
While Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Putin have been publicly discussing plans to deepen their relations, several Chinese officials in private conversations with FT journalists “sought to bring clarity to relations between Beijing and Moscow on the Ukraine issue.” According to the article, the same message was repeated by Chinese representatives to some European diplomats.
“Putin is insane,” one Chinese official said on condition of anonymity.
“The decision to invade was made by a very small group of people. China shouldn’t blindly follow Russia.”
Furthermore, China now reportedly “understands the possibility that Russia won’t be able to defeat Ukraine and it will emerge from the conflict as a minor power.” Despite public declarations of friendship, some Chinese officials in private conversations have expressed distrust towards Kremlin leadership.
The FT’s sources confirmed that Beijing wasn’t aware of Putin's plans before he ordered the invasion of Ukraine.
Due to a lack of understanding of the situation, Chinese authorities demoted then-Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister and chief Russia expert Le Yucheng for not being able to foresee the war.
Earlier, The Wall Street Journal reported that Xi Jinping instructed the Chinese government to establish closer economic ties with Russia. According to sources, China wants to increase its imports of Russian oil, expand energy cooperation, and increase investment in Russia's infrastructure.