Alexander V. Pantsov: The Chinese Communist Party leadership has always maintained: “China believes in non-interference in internal affairs.” In the current Ukrainian situation it is the most we can expect from the P.R.C. because it is not able to lean to either the Western or Russian side without reservation. China cannot unconditionally support the West since she disagrees with the Western perception of political and social democracy. Moreover, the Chinese leaders cannot be pleased with the popular revolution in Ukraine because the 2013-14 events on Independence Square in Kiev clearly resemble those of April-June 1989 on Tiananmen Square in Beijing. It is well known that the Beijing authorities do not embrace Mencius’ assertion that the people have the right to change the Heavenly Mandate (tianming) if a ruler lost virtue (de). So how can they favor the downfall of the corrupted Ukrainian President? However, the P.R.C. cannot approve the Russian invasion of Crimea either. After all, it openly violates sovereignty of another country and undoubtedly brings to mind the Nazi Anschluss with Austria (March 1938) and the Nazi annexation of the Sudetenland (October 1938) and Memel (March 1939). The P.R.C. has her own problems with potentially unstable territories such as Tibet and Xinjiang and it certainly cannot consider legitimate the future Crimean referendum of March 16 that will definitely endorse the break away from Ukraine and the joining Russia. Given this, China, on the one side, has recently repeated that she respected the territorial integrity of Ukraine and hoped that all parties would preserve peace in Europe, but on the other side, has failed to support the American and E.U. sanctions. The very word “sanctions” must bring to their mind the 1989 negative reaction of the Democratic World to the Tiananmen Massacre. As the Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang asserted, “China has constantly opposed the easy use of sanctions in international relations, or using sanctions as a threat.”
Of course, I would be pleased to learn that the P.R.C. denounces Putin as a vicious aggressor as he is, but I do not think it will happen. The Chinese failed to do so in the wake of the Russian shameful invasion of Georgia in 2008 and they do not seem likely to do it now.
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