Honcharuk A., Kiktenko V. Ukraine – China Relations. March – June 2018 // TRUMAN Index. – 2018. – №3(7). – P. 13-17.
Over the last four months, Sino-Ukrainian relations remained an important direction in Ukraine’s foreign policy. On one hand, this is affecting the development of the Ukrainian economy substantially and the socio-economic development of the country’s regions. On the other, however, Ukraine’s political elite tends to be relatively unaware of it. China typically keeps a distance from domestic politics in other countries, even with its strategic partners. And so, the approach of presidential and parliamentary elections in Ukraine will inevitably dampen bilateral dialog, which, compared to Ukraine’s relations with the US and EU looks sleepy and simple. In domestic expert circles, some even talk about “stagnation in Ukrainian-Chinese relations” in the first half of 2018.
At this time, one pressing challenge for Ukraine’s diplomats is to organize and prepare for a visit at the highest level. Direct talks between President Poroshenko and President Xi Jinping are expected to become one of the most important events in Ukraine’s foreign policy, especially in the Asian aspect, regardless of the domestic situation in Ukraine.
Still, bilateral relations continue to demonstrate a positive dynamic in contacts between ministries and government agencies in both countries. Given this, two trends become significant. First, government agencies are properly understanding the role China can play in ensuring the development and modernization of Ukraine’s industries and farm sector. Some officials directly tie the future of their branches to growing cooperation with the Middle Kingdom. The other tendency is towards the gradual concretization of economic cooperation, with slogans about “roadmaps” slowly being replaced by the day-to-day work of carrying out bilateral projects.
Over the last four months, an important feature of Ukraine’s approach to relations with China has visibly emerged. Whereas the function of moderator in bilateral cooperation on the Chinese side tends to be handled by profile state agencies led by the Foreign Ministry, on the Ukrainian side it tends to be civil society through the scientific and expert community. This explains the numerous bilateral events in which the Ukrainian co-organizers are the NAS, the Association of Sinologists of Ukraine, the Chamber of Trade and Industry, and a variety of think-tanks.
In the case of China, moreover, the humanitarian aspect of bilateral cooperation somewhat compensates for the flabbiness of the state entities that should be driving the development of relations.