China’s Foreign Ministry on Friday stressed that Beijing believes the “sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries” should be respected — a principle that “applies equally to Ukraine.”
Why it matters: Reiterating that Russia’s “legitimate security demands” on NATO expansion “should be taken seriously and properly addressed,” the statement marks China’s most extensive one yet on Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
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The big picture: Weeks before the attack began, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin issued an unprecedented joint statement seeming to align their visions for an anti-Western international order.
The two authoritarian powers have fostered deeper ties, including in military cooperation, as tensions with the U.S. have soared over the past several years — raising major alarms in Washington.
Russia and China said they “oppose further enlargement of NATO” and called on the West “to abandon its ideologized cold war approaches.”
Driving the news: Following a call with his British, EU and French counterparts, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi outlined Beijing’s position on Ukraine in five points:
China “firmly advocates” abiding by the UN Charter and respecting the territorial integrity of all countries, including Ukraine.
The security of one country cannot be strengthened at the expense of another, and Russia is justified to have concerns about five rounds of NATO expansion.
China believes “all parties” should exercise restraint and protect civilian life and property to prevent a large-scale humanitarian crisis.
China supports “direct dialogue and negotiation between Russia and Ukraine as soon as possible” and believes Ukraine “should be a bridge between East and West, not a frontier of great power confrontation.”
The UN Security Council should be used to “facilitate a diplomatic solution” and “cool tensions rather than fuel them.” China has always opposed UN resolutions that invoke Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which authorizes military and non-military steps to “restore international peace and security.”
Between the lines: The New York Times reported Friday that U.S. officials tried half a dozen times over three months to get China to help head off a Russian invasion of Ukraine, but that Beijing did not believe the warnings and even shared the information with Moscow.
What to watch: With major Western sanctions set to isolate Russia from much of the global economy, many experts believe the Kremlin’s dependence on China will dramatically increase.
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