Zelensky counts on China to substitute Western investment
Zelensky has signed a decree creating a temporary, unilateral visa-free regime for Chinese tourism.
Chinese citizens will be able to stay in Ukraine for 30 days within a six-month period from Aug. 1, 2020 until Jan. 31, 2021.
“The decree was signed in order to develop friendly relations between Ukraine and China, as well as to intensify bilateral cooperation in the field of tourism.”
Putting the obvious issue of the dubious goal of “developing tourism” from China, where COVID originated, while the pandemic rages on in Ukraine aside, this latest development looks like Ukraine is going back to Yanukovych’s policy of inviting China into Ukraine.
The reasons are exactly the same: diminishing Ukraine’s reliance on the West, and more importantly, not having to implement the conditions that are attached to western money.
Zelensky, who is surrounded by people of the Yanukovych regime era, wants Chinese money that comes with no policy conditions attached, to replace loans from International financial institutions, as well as from western donors and lenders.
China, which has already overtaken several countries in Africa, would probably very much like to get a foothold in the country neighbouring the European Union.
By substituting Western money, Zelensky will be able to afford to quit the pretence of reforming Ukraine, and more flagrantly disregard the Rule of Law and principles of the democratic liberal order.
It is telling that Zelensky would get friendly with a country like China that is increasingly being recognized as a serious rising threat to liberal democracy across the West.
And Ukrainians should not kid themselves – Chinese money may not come with policy conditions attached, but it will entail Ukraine’s economy being overtaken by China. Such a relationship between the two countries will not only put Ukraine off its post-Maidan Euro-Atlantic reformist track, but it will also make Ukraine subservient to undemocratic, authoritarian China.
Given everything else that has happened under Zelensky, it is hard not to think this is the direction things are headed.