The armed rebellion in Russia may have been aborted for now, but China is closely watching its possible spillover effects and the lessons it can draw on national security, observers say.

The leader of the Wagner mercenaries, Yevgeny Prigozhin, called off their advance on Saturday and reportedly reached an agreement with the Kremlin to go into exile in Belarus.

In a brief statement issued on Sunday night, the Chinese Foreign Ministry claimed that the “Wagner Group incident” was an internal Russian matter.

“China supports Russia in maintaining national stability and achieving its development and prosperity,” the ministry said.

The comments came after Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko traveled to Beijing to meet Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang and his deputy Ma Zhaoxu.

In a separate statement, the ministry stated that they had discussed “Sino-Russian relations and international and regional issues of common interest.”

According to the ministry, Ma said that under the strategic guidance of Presidents Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin, China and Russia have continuously deepened political mutual trust and improved practical cooperation.

Because the international situation was complex and serious, it was necessary to follow the consensus reached by Xi and Putin, communicate with each other in a timely manner, ensure the stability of relations between the two countries, and safeguard the common interests of both sides, Ma said.

According to the ministry, Rudenko said the Russia-China relationship was at its best in history, adding that Russia was willing to continue joint efforts with China to promote more fruitful and mutually beneficial cooperation.

He added that the two sides had agreed that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization played an important role in maintaining regional security and stability and that both sides would work to promote the continuous, healthy and smooth development of the SCO.

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, Beijing expressed its support for the Russian leadership in stabilizing the internal situation after the events on Saturday and reaffirmed its interest in strengthening cooperation with Russia.

Feng Yujun, Director of the Center for Russian and Central Asian Studies at Fudan University, stated: “An incident alone will not have a direct impact on the China-Russia relationship or on China itself.

“But the overall international situation, including the future direction of the Russia-Ukraine war, the uncertainty of Russia’s future development, the geopolitical challenge, and significant changes in the environment surrounding China, will have a profound historical impact on China.” .

In his opinion, the situation in Russia may have softened, but the deep political divisions within the country remain unresolved.

“It is important to recognize that this event is just the beginning, and further turbulence is possible,” Feng said.

Liu Weidong of the American Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said China considered Russia a key partner and its internal stability was very important to Beijing, especially as ties with the West deteriorated.

“Beijing will also strengthen communication and exchange with Russia and President Putin,” Liu said.

According to analysts, Beijing could also be attentive to political and military lessons, especially in relation to Taiwan.

“Failure on the front lines of a major military action, such as one to unify Taiwan with the mainland, could help unofficial militant groups emerge, a risk Chinese leaders need to prepare for,” said a mainland researcher who He requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject.

“Russia has always been an example for China to prepare for national security risks.”

He called the rebellion a cautionary tale about how Beijing should manage its ties with the military.

The leadership’s control over the military has been tightened since President Xi Jinping came to power and the People’s Liberation Army has been told to obey the Communist Party.

In May, Xi told a meeting of the National Security Commission that China needed to prepare for “the worst and most extreme scenarios.” A national system to monitor and alert on security risks was also approved at the meeting.

“Although there are now no mercenaries in mainland China, and the party has a unified leadership over the military, an ‘extreme scenario’ leaders have to consider is whether failures on the front lines of a large-scale military action could lead to a division of militant power,” said the researcher.

Li Nan, a visiting senior fellow at the East Asia Institute at the National University of Singapore, said the developments could offer lessons for Beijing on the relationship between the military and civilian sectors.

The Russian government made itself dependent on the Wagner Group to invade Ukraine, but the mercenary group had long complained about a lack of support for its fighters, he said.

China wants to learn lessons from Prigozhin's abortive Russian rebellion.

“The war was ordered by Putin – he is the political leadership – and it almost turned out to be a failure, or a stalemate. So it is a civil failure,” Li said.

But China tends to look to its own history of major armed rebellions and warlordism for lessons, and many of the discussions on social media look to historical precedents.

Hu Xijin, former editor-in-chief of the nationalist tabloid Global Times, wrote on Chinese social media: “This uprising is about to create reverberations and repercussions across Russia’s political landscape, casting a shadow over the stability of Russian military forces on the Ukrainian front.” .

sylvie zhuang