China’s Xi Jinping quits Volodymyr Zelensky, Taiwan joins Ukraine

Taiwan has stepped up its quiet diplomatic engagement with local officials in Ukraine after Beijing’s continued lukewarm support for Kyiv following Russia’s invasion.

Unlike Beijing, Taipei has no official relationship with Kyiv; Trade and travel relations with Ukraine are technically conducted through Taiwan’s diplomatic office in Moscow, whose work includes Russia and 11 former Soviet republics.

The democratic island – the subject of a decades-old territorial claim by China – sided with Ukraine and the West against Russia’s attack in February. Eastern Europe appears to have seen an opportunity to expand its voice, with Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu leading the diplomatic charge.

On Twitter on Monday, he shared details of “an emotional call” with Buka Mayor Anatoly Fedoruk, which Wu called “some of the worst war crimes” committed by Russia’s forces. Taiwan pledged $500,000 to help rebuild the Ukrainian city, its foreign ministry said.

Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu speaks to Buka Mayor Anatoly Fedoruk via video link in Taipei on June 20, 2022. Taiwan has stepped up its quiet diplomatic engagement with local officials in Ukraine after Beijing’s lukewarm support for Kyiv following Russia’s invasion.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Taiwan

It recently called for a $1.2 million donation to be announced with Serhi Dumenko, head of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine; and with Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov, to provide $2 million in aid.

On June 15, Lviv Mayor Andrey Sadovy thanked Taiwan for an $800,000 fund for medical equipment. Similar messages of gratitude have come from different parliamentarians in Ukraine.

Much of Taiwan’s increasingly public engagement with local authorities in Ukraine comes from civil society. In what many see as a territorial victory over the island by the Kremlin, the Taiwanese people have shown extreme sympathy for the Ukrainians in the 17 weeks since the invasion began.

In March, a relief fund backed by Taiwan’s government raised nearly 1 billion New Taiwan dollars ($33.65 million) in a single month. The donation, which was in addition to hundreds of tons of medical supplies sent to Europe, went to Ukraine and its neighbours, which were receiving millions of refugees.

Taiwanese officials, including Wu, continue to speak of Ukraine’s resistance as an inspiration to the island’s public, which is preparing itself for similar battles in the decades to come.

Meanwhile, China has defended its position on the crisis from the start, refusing to condemn Russia for not openly supporting Ukraine.

Beijing announced two batches of humanitarian aid for Ukraine in March, totaling 1.5 million Chinese yuan ($2.24 million). Its slow response is highly reflective of its important geopolitical ties with Russia, which is the only major power with China in its growing rivalry with the West in general and the United States in particular.

Since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on February 24, the Kremlin has published details of two calls between Russian President Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping. However, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is yet to speak to his Chinese counterpart.

Taiwan Joins Ukraine As Xi Shun Zelensky
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, main image, attends a press conference at the Mariinsky Palace in Kyiv on June 16, 2022. Inset, Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing on May 15, 2017. Zelensky and Xi are yet to speak months after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Ludovic Marin/Thomas Peter/Pool/AFP via Getty Images/Getty Images

In Davos in May, Zelensky said he was “satisfied with this status quo,” in which China refrained from making any move for or against Ukraine. “It’s better than helping Russia,” he said.

He was less optimistic about the possibility that Beijing could pressure Moscow to end the conflict.

“I’m not sure China will,” Zelensky said.

Although Beijing’s own diplomatic efforts with Kyiv have been muted, it is undoubtedly taking notice of Taipei’s efforts to build ties with non-governmental officials in Ukraine.

On 20 April, after the Ukrainian parliament thanked Taiwan for its continued support, the Chinese embassy in Washington reported newsweek That Beijing opposes “official exchanges” between Taiwan and countries that have diplomatic relations with China.

two days later, woo Held A video call with Kyiv Mayor Vitaly Klitschko to announce the $3 million donation. But opposition from China, Ukraine’s biggest trading partner, means that Taiwanese officials are unlikely to reach their counterparts in Zelensky’s cabinet or the Ukrainian president himself.

The foreign ministries of China and Taiwan did not respond to requests for comment.

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