February 28, 2022

Why China Sees Opportunity in Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

As Russian forces rolled into Ukraine, a reporter asked White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki if the Biden administration was doing anything to prevent China from backing Russia’s aggression. Psaki’s response: “It is really a question for China, on whether they look at that and think that is acceptable behavior.”

In recent weeks, China has touted its strategic partnership with Russia while being circumspect about Moscow’s threats to Ukraine, raising questions about whether the two authoritarian powers will stick together. There’s even been speculation that Russian President Vladimir Putin conferred with Chinese President Xi Jinping before deciding to invade or that China will take notes for a future invasion of Taiwan.

China will likely continue to walk a fine line to skirt international condemnation, as the readout from Xi’s Friday call with Putin shows.

The reality is that a Russian invasion of Ukraine was probably not China’s preferred outcome. But now that it’s happened, China will likely find ways to support Russia while leveraging the crisis for its own benefit. The two countries genuinely share a worldview of the West as aggressor and China and Russia as victims. More tangibly, China will also seek to profit from Russia’s economic and political isolation.

But this war fits squarely with China’s preferred global order: a world in which big countries enjoy a “sphere of influence” that gives them the final say over political, military and economic affairs in their neighborhood.

Read the full article from POLITICO.

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