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The Chinese walk a fine line in the Ukraine crisis

Chinese People's Congress
Chinese People's Congress
getty photos

Americans are not the only major power expressing concern about Russian behavior these past few days. These are trying times for Chinese diplomats.

Russia’s intervention into the Ukraine, specifically the Crimea Peninsula, has forced the Chinese to choose between backing the West for their own political gain or keep their policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang made their policy clear on Sunday. With the first reports of Russian intervention in the Crimea, he said, “We respect the independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”
Nothing close to the frantic rage of the West – but something.

China’s strategy is their principle of non-interference. They constantly worry about foreigner’s meddling in their border disputes, as they have for centuries – the provinces of Tibet and Xinjiang where the general population hates the Chinese.

The Russians are doing a déjà vu in the Chinese leadership’s minds by their referendum that the paralyzed Crimean parliament has called for March 16 to choose whether the autonomous region should break away from Ukraine and join Russia.

That’s with a Russian gun at their head.

“China insists that Crimea’s fate should be decided by all Ukrainians,” explains Prof. Jin. “We will not support a Russian occupation of Crimea,” said Jin Canrong, a professor of international studies at Renmin University in Beijing.

Prof. Jin remains positive in his government’s own anxieties. “Because of Taiwan, China would very much hate to see the division of a nation,” he explains, “but on the other hand China needs stable relations with Russia. We will try to balance these two considerations.”

The world should not expect too big a squeak from China as they build their own navy to suit their interests in Southeast Asia.

Russia will remember any provocative words or actions their neighbor makes in their quest to hold onto the Crimea.

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