Since Russia invaded Ukraine, observers have been keeping a close eye on how much support China might lend its isolated partner. Though China has offered a much-needed diplomatic lifeline to Vladimir Putin in the face of Western efforts to make him a global pariah, Xi Jinping’s patience now seems to have worn thin.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s tour of Central Asia in July highlighted Beijing’s growing influence in the region. China has become a top trade partner and investor, surpassing Russia, its silent rival there. With Moscow now preoccupied with the war in Ukraine, Beijing is poised to secure its lead once and for all.