Sep 23, 2022 - World

Ukrainian MP: "China is not our friend"

Photo illustration of Ukrainian MP Oleksandr Merezhko between a blue and gold graphic shapes
Photo illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios. Photo: Archive of Oleksandr Merezhko

China's support for Russia in the war in Ukraine has disappointed many Ukrainians, parliamentary member Oleksandr Merezhko tells Axios in an interview.

Why it matters: Beijing has tried to both support Russia and convince Europe that it supports the principles of sovereignty and the rule of law. Ukrainians aren't buying it, Merezhko says.

Driving the news: Two members of the Ukrainian parliament joined the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China last week, the first Ukrainians to join the organization.

  • The group of lawmakers from 29 democratic countries shares concerns about the Chinese Communist Party's attempts to undermine democracy and human rights on the global stage.

What he's saying: "I have experienced living in the Soviet Union for 20 years. I know what it’s like to live in a totalitarian state, which tramples human rights and undermines the world order," Merezhko said. "To me, China is exactly like that, like the Soviet Union but more dangerous."

  • Merezhko says he realized "China is not our friend" after Chinese President Xi Jinping touted a "partnership without limits" with Russia. China amplifies Russian propaganda and has "done nothing at all" to pressure Russian President Vladimir Putin to withdraw his troops, Merezhko said.
  • "It’s an ally of our enemy. And [China] is a very cynical force, which absolutely doesn’t care about anything except for its own interests."

Taiwan, on the other hand, said Merezhko, proved to be a "true friend."

  • Taiwan implemented sanctions against Russia and gave substantial material support to Ukraine, and the Taiwanese parliament adopted a resolution in support of Ukraine.

Merezhko also emphasized that the Chinese government's repressive policies in Xinjiang are a matter of grave international concern.

  • "Genocide is a crime of crimes," Merezhko said. "It is a crime against all humankind. It is a crime against all countries. When China is committing genocide, it is also a crime against Ukraine."

The back story: Weeks before Russia invaded Ukraine, Xi and Putin jointly announced their two countries' close partnership. The Chinese government has not criticized Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and it has subsequently reaffirmed its close relationship with Moscow.

  • But after last week's meeting with Xi, Putin said that China had "questions and concerns" about Ukraine.
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