Russia’s alliance with China a ‘turning point in security’
Beijing rejected labelling Russia’s “special military action” in Ukraine as an “invasion”, instead placing blame on the US for “hyping up” the prospect of war in Eastern Europe. Reports suggest China is now ready to throw Russia an economic lifeline as President Vladimir Putin’s ties with the West rapidly deteriorate and Moscow is hit by a growing number of economic sanctions. Many countries have slapped sanctions on Russia, with the EU promising to deploy a string of measures that will erode Moscow’s economy.
Financial analysts and geopolitical experts believe China will probably help Russia absorb these sanctions, mostly through resource deals and lending by several state-owned banks, while seeking to avoid damage to its own economic and financial interests.
Earlier this month, China and Russia agreed on a new oil and gas deal worth an estimated $117.5billion (£88.2million) that would shore up any losses Putin incurred from gas disruptions with Europe.
Professor Julian Lindley-French, an internationally recognised strategic analyst and adviser in defence, who has worked with NATO, says a closer working relationship between China and Russia is to be expected in such political crises.
He told Express.co.uk: “China will exploit this and will work with Russia to make life as difficult for the Americans as possible.
China news: The country is thought to be willing to help Russia in its efforts to hurt the West
Kyiv: People fled the city on Thursday
“So don’t expect in future major conflict, in future war in the long-run, that China and Russia will allow just a one-axis, single crisis for the West to deal with.
“They will offer multiple crises in which the Americans are stretched the world over.
“In our forthcoming strategic shadow concept for NATO, we make the essential point that unless Europeans can do far more for their own defence at the very high-end of conflict in an emergency, the Americans, with the best will in the world, in ten years will simply be unable to defend Europeans without Europeans doing far more.
“Even today it’s a stretch for the Americans, and the Chinese and the Russians have understood this and have discussed this, and they’re working out how best to exploit this weakness for their objectives.”
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He went on to claim that China (officially the People’s Republic of China, PRC) will unify Taiwan (officially the Republic of China) with the mainland if it is not contested, adding that the West has “almost already” accepted such an event by “recognising China as being China” rather than the PRC.
Prof Lindley-French continued: “In the same way with Ukraine, it is not a NATO member, we can’t offer protective defence to Ukraine because it’s a partner, not a member.
“And so China and Russia are looking at this together and saying, ‘How can we exploit this?’ given their growing military capability in relation to our own.
“That’s the fundamental point here: military power isn’t absolute, it’s relative.
“By taking our eye off the ball in the last ten years, we’ve allowed their relative power to become dangerously advantaged in certain areas, and that’s why we’re facing this crisis today.”
In a news briefing on Thursday, China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying urged “all parties” to work for peace instead of escalating tensions, deploying an oft-used reference to criticise the west during the crisis.
She said: “China is closely following the latest developments.
“We still hope that the parties concerned will not shut the door to peace and engage instead in dialogue and consultation and prevent the situation from further escalating.”
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Oil deal: Russia and China recently signed a new deal on oil and gas
Beijing Olympics: The pair met during the Beijing Winter Olympics
Ms Hua appeared to skirt questions and dismissed a reporter who asked her whether Beijing considered Moscow’s action on Kyiv to be an “invasion” by saying this was a typical questioning style used by western media.
She continued: “All parties should work for peace instead of escalating the tension or hyping up the possibility of war.
“Those parties who were busy condemning others, what have they done? Have they persuaded others?
“Rather than hyping up or fanning the flames, have they done enough to prevent the development of the Ukraine situation that we are seeing today?”
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She then went on to reiterate Putin’s “legitimate security concerns” while calling out the US for sending defence assistance to Kyiv.
When asked if China would be sending Russia military aid, she said: “The way China acts is not like the US.
“When we see there is a risk of a conflict, we will not take the initiative and will not provide weapons to the other side,” adding that Russia is a “major world power” and does not need assistance from the world.
China’s official response came as an estimated 40 people had been killed by Russian military strikes.
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The Kremlin said it will continue its “military operation” until it neutralises Kyiv’s military potential.
China and Russia have largely aligned their foreign policies to oppose the US.
The countries appeared to signal deepening ties after Putin and Xi met earlier this month at the Beijing Winter Olympics.
In a joint statement after this meeting, China said it backed Moscow’s opposition to NATO’s eastward expansion across former Soviet republics.
Russia in turn said it supported Beijing’s claim to Taiwan.