Wednesday, March 12, 2014

china on ukraine

The Kansas City Star quotes Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Qin Gang as having said:

“I want to point out that we are aware of the historical facts and realistic complexity of the Ukrainian issue. There are reasons for why the situation in Ukraine is what it is today.”

Qin Gang spoke truthfully when he stated that the situation in Ukraine is historically and politically complex. The writer for the star points out that while China aspires to be an influential player in world politics, the country has been largely neutral in regards to the situation in Ukraine. Though true, can we really blame China of remaining unresponsive to the situation in Ukraine? The United States has been criticised for its lack of action in Syria. And though the U.S. has tried to facilitate political discussion, they have not become militarily involved in either Ukraine or Syria.

The complexity of the situation stretches in many different directions. While the U.S. and Europe support the transitional government in Kiev and the ouster of Yanukovich, and denounce the Russian coup in Crimea, Europe has substantial and troubling ties to Russia which may complicate any sort of forceful action Europe could take against Russia. Europe and Russia are reliant on one another: Europe relies on Russia for its natural gas and natural gas therefore has become Russia’s largest export, propping up the rest of its weak economy. Furthermore, Russia imports heavily from Germany and other western European nations, and European sanctions could jeopardize the income generated by its exports to Russia, which could be particularly damaging during this time of tender recovery within the E.U.

China, as another export driven economy, could also be greatly affected should it choose to cross Russia politically, let alone commit to economic sanctions. China also holds a tenuous alliance, or at least some sort of detente, with Russia - they support each other politically as both seem to fear international intervention, influence, and pressure. The Chinese and Russian governments exert enormous power over their populations and the political systems in those countries. Both countries often defend established governments and the sovereignty of other governments in the face of public protest and international intervention.

But with Ukraine, Russia has directly violated the sovereignty of a foreign nation, despite Crimea’s history as Russian. If China cares so strongly about foreign powers involving themselves in the affairs of other nations, China must break with Russia on this issue. If China does want to be politically influential, and not merely economically influential, it should at this point at least condemn Russia’s actions. Economically it makes more sense to defend its politics of sovereignty and simultaneously appease the Western nations which contribute more to the growth and strength of the Chinese economy. In Mao's Three-World theory, China remained non-aligned with neither the Western capitalist countries nor Communist U.S.S.R.  At this time, China should remain unaligned, forge its own path politically and economically, and take its place as an influential world power.

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