Analysis-China would support Russia, diplomatically, if it advances towards Ukraine

FILE PHOTO: Ukrainian servicemen drive a tank during exercises at a training ground at an undisclosed location in Ukraine, in this photo released February 18, 2022. Ukrainian Joint Forces Operation News Service/Handout via REUTERS Reuters_tickers

This content was published on February 19, 2022 – 09:58

By Yew Lun Tian

BEIJING (Reuters) – China would support Russia diplomatically and possibly economically if it invaded Ukraine, worsening Beijing’s already strained relations with the West, but would refrain from providing military support, experts said.

US President Joe Biden said Friday that Russian Vladimir Putin had decided to invade Ukraine within days, which Russia denies.

China’s Foreign Ministry has repeatedly accused the United States of “spreading false information” and creating tension, urging it to respect and meet Russia’s demands for security guarantees.

In a show of solidarity, Putin traveled to Beijing for the opening ceremony of the February 4 Olympics, declaring with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping a deepening of the “boundless” strategic partnership. Chinese state media said the two countries stood “shoulder to shoulder to uphold justice in the world”.

A Russian invasion of Ukraine would test China’s resolve to put those words of support into action, especially given China’s foreign policy principle of non-interference.

China almost certainly wouldn’t want to be involved militarily, say experts familiar with Beijing’s thinking.

Although China and Russia have moved from a “marriage of convenience” to a quasi-alliance, relations between the neighboring giants are far from a formal alliance requiring one to send troops if the other does. facing threats, said Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin. University.

China has always demanded that the Ukrainian crisis be resolved peacefully through dialogue.

“Just as China does not expect Russia to assist militarily in the event of a war in Taiwan, Russia does not expect China to assist militarily in Ukraine, and it does not I don’t need such help either,” said Li Mingjiang, an associate professor at S. Rajaratnam. School of International Studies in Singapore.

VOTE NO

Instead, China would show that it is a reliable friend by not joining the international chorus of condemnation if Russia invades Ukraine.

China was the only country to vote with Russia last month in a failed attempt to prevent the 15-member UN Security Council from meeting, at the behest of the United States, on troop reinforcements Russians on the borders of Ukraine.

This went further than in 2014, when China abstained from voting on a US-drafted Security Council resolution urging countries not to recognize Russia’s annexation of the Ukrainian region of Crimea.

Experts also said China could expand economic cooperation with Russia, which would lessen the impact of sanctions promised by the West in the event of an invasion.

After Russia invaded Crimea, several Chinese state banks, including the China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China, provided loans to Russia’s state-sanctioned banks. West.

NOT A WAR HE WANTS

China would prefer that Russia not invade Ukraine.

“With the international world so polarized, it is possible that the United States and the West will be united in isolating or sanctioning China along with Russia,” Shi said.

Earlier this month, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said Chinese companies would face consequences if they sought to evade any export controls imposed on Moscow in the event of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

A person familiar with American thinking told reporters that the technology-related sanctions and export controls Washington is planning with allies are beyond China’s ability to meet.

“We are prepared to take action against any country or foreign entity that circumvents them,” the person said.

Beijing also doesn’t want the headache of the economic fallout from a Russian invasion of Ukraine, especially in a year when Xi is set to secure an unprecedented third term, prioritizing stability. .

An invasion would also show that China’s repeated calls for all parties, including Russia, to resolve the Ukraine crisis peacefully have fallen on Putin’s deaf ears, raising doubts about his effectiveness as an interlocutor, he said. said Shi.

(Reporting by Yew Lun Tian; Additional reporting by Michael Martina and David Brunnstrom in Washington and Michelle Nichols at the United Nations; Editing by Tony Munroe and William Mallard)

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