The Chinese regime has made contradictory statements about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, claiming that it understands Russia’s security needs and that Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity should be respected. Some analysts believe that the matter has put the Chinese regime in an awkward dilemma, forcing it to issue contradictory statements.
Chinese Communist Party (CCP) mouthpiece Xinhua reported that on Feb. 24, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov by phone. In stating his position on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Wang noted that “China has always respected the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries,” but that the issue of Ukraine is complex and special and that China “understands the reasonable concerns of the Russian side on security issues.”
At regular press conferences held by the Chinese Foreign Ministry on Feb. 24 and Feb. 22, spokespersons Hua Chunying and Wang Wenbin made similar statements. They said they respected Ukraine’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity, that the Ukrainian issue had a complex historical background and practical factors, and that the Russian side’s “reasonable security concerns should be respected.”
Chen Weijian, editor-in-chief of Beijing Spring, said on Feb. 25 that Russia’s attack on Ukraine and its recognition of the two eastern regions of Ukraine as independent states put the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in an awkward dilemma.
He said the CCP does not want to offend Russia. But, on the other hand, it cannot go along with Russia on the issue of the independence of the eastern regions of Ukraine. So it is actually in a very contradictory and awkward situation and therefore can only issue very conflicting statements.
Chen Weijian said, “But it will lose more by issuing such contradictory things in the international arena instead, and in our parlance, it will lose both sides.”
“The CCP and Russia have established a strategic partnership and said there is no end to this cooperation, no forbidden zone, and no upper limit. Now that the CCP has broken the covenant and has reservations on the so-called national unification, that offends Russia. On the other hand, the CCP has also offended Ukraine. Ukraine has played a major role in the CCP’s military development and has been helping the CCP in many military facilities”.
Last June, China and Russia announced a five-year extension of the China-Russian Treaty of Good Neighborliness, Friendship, and Cooperation. The treaty was signed by former Communist Party leaders Jiang Zemin and Putin in Moscow in July 2001. Article 6 of the treaty declares that Russia and China have no mutual territorial claims, which means the Chinese government has completely abandoned its territorial sovereignty claims over the outer northeast.
Chen Weijian said, “The Chinese Communist Party claims that sovereign territory is indivisible, and this is a red line bottom line that cannot be touched.”
“If China’s territory is not unified, it’s not [because of a small missing] Diaoyu Islands or Taiwan, it’s mainly in Russia. So in dealing with Russia and Ukraine, the anti-Xi Jinping faction will think it has the bottom line to fight Xi Jinping. So I believe that in the end, no unified official decision was formed, and that is the reason for the two conflicting statements”.
Wong, Ming-Hsien, director of the Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies at Tamkang University in Taiwan, agrees that the current situation puts the CCP in a dilemma.
Wong said that Russia and Ukraine are both diplomatic states of the CCP. However, if one looks at the situation from the perspective of respecting sovereignty and independence and non-interference in internal affairs, the CCP should condemn Moscow.
“But based on the strategic partnership between the CCP and Russia, it is considering how to respond to the United States, and from such a perspective, it has to express itself from the perspective of so-called respecting Russia’s ‘security needs’ and avoiding the heavy.'”