Are Beijing and Kiev Preparing for a Strategic Alliance?

by Sami Burgaz

In the last few days, a number of important events have been taking place between China and Ukraine. In fact, Kiev and Beijing exchanged such friendly messages that Washington is already starting to worry.

On July 13, President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky had a telephone conversation with President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping. After thanking the President of the PRC on behalf of the Ukrainian people for the supply of vaccines against the Covid-19 virus, Zelensky emphasized the importance of the participation of Chinese investors in the implementation of projects for the development of the infrastructure of sea ports, the construction and modernization of roads, the development of railways and urban infrastructure. Xi Jinping, in turn, said that China respects the path of independence chosen by the Ukrainian people and supports Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, according to a statement by the Office of the President of Ukraine. In addition, the message emphasized the desire of the authorities of the two countries to reach an agreement on the visa-free regime.

According to, Chinese state agency Xinhua described this phone call differently. According to the Chinese news agency, Zelenskiy expressed his commitment to the “one China” principle, underlining that Taiwan is also a part of China, after wishing great success to the Chinese people led by the Communist Party.  Ukrainian telegram channel “Legitimny” claims that Vladimir Zelensky tried to get China’s consent to join the “Crimean Platform”, but got a refusal. However, it is also alleged that China will send a delegation to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence, implying the possibility of the President of Ukraine visiting China as part of his Asian tour in the autumn. But a more definite answer will come after Zelensky’s visit to Washington in July.

Acting US Ambassador to Ukraine, George Kent, has already drawn attention to the rapprochement between Kiev and Beijing. According to Kent, “If it contributes to the economy of Ukraine, exporting agriculture and other products and raw materials from Ukraine to China is a normal trade. However, if there is a threat to the interests of America and Ukraine, rapprochement attempts between Ukraine and China will not be ignored. Chinese shareholders are not interested in people working in Ukraine. They need intellectual property to improve production in China.”

It seems that the predictions of some experts about a sharp deterioration in relations between China and Ukraine, after the Ukrainian authorities effectively deprived Chinese investors of control over the Motor Sich enterprise, did not come true. Because it is obvious that the relations of the parties are not broken and that they express the deepest love and respect for each other.

Note: Motor Sich is one of the largest manufacturers of aircraft equipment engines as well as industrial gas turbine units, supplying products to more than 100 countries. It produces gas pumping units and power equipment for Mi-8, Mi-17, Ka-226 helicopters, An-70, An-124, An-140, An-148, Yak-130 aircraft. After the collapse of the USSR, the company continued to actively cooperate with Russia. After the coup in Ukraine in 2014, Kiev unilaterally terminated military technical cooperation with Russia. In 2015, Chinese investors became interested in the plant. For China, Motor Sich is a defense technology resource in a country with cheap and skilled labor. In 2016, Beijing Skyrizon Aviation Industry Investment acquired a 76 percent of the  plant’s shares from the business’s director, Vyacheslav Boguslaev. However, the Chinese were unable to take full ownership of the plant. In 2018, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) launched an investigation against Boguslaev. The US imposed sanctions on Beijing Skyrizon Aviation Industry Investment.

The Ukrainians decided not to spoil relations with the Americans and nationalized the enterprise. However, Chinese investors are not happy with this situation. The Chinese have not only lost their share, but the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council imposed sanctions against Bejing Skyrizon, limiting doing business in Ukraine for three years. Washington’s main goal was to prevent the Chinese from acquiring aircraft engine technology to use to their advantage. The US Secretary of State at the time, Mike Pompeo, described China’s investment in the Ukraine initiative as malicious.

Making a statement to, Russian International Relations Council expert Alexei Naumov gave an assessment of the US reaction to a possible rapprochement between Ukraine and China. Naumov said that since the United States is interested in Ukraine to expand its sphere of influence in the former Soviet states and to control Russia, it will not give Kiev an opportunity to cooperate with Beijing. According to the expert, Ukraine will also use it more actively to pressure Western allies by demanding an Action Plan or additional funds for NATO membership.


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