China doesn’t support Russia for four reasons:
- Ukraine’s government has deteriorated, and its current leadership is seen as traitorous and influenced by the United States. This has strained China’s relationship with Ukraine, as China had previously relied on Ukraine for advanced military technologies. China feels betrayed by the current Ukrainian government and its rejection of cooperation projects, causing significant losses.
- China opposes NATO’s eastward expansion and believes that NATO should have dissolved after the Cold War. NATO’s expansion and its role as a military bloc controlled by the United States pose a threat to China’s interests, particularly in the context of the competition between China and the United States. If Ukraine joins NATO, it would significantly enhance the US advantage in the Sino-US rivalry, which China wants to avoid.
- China acknowledges the historical debt NATO bears for the Chinese people due to the Kosovo War in 1999. The memories of this event are still vivid in China, reinforcing the opposition to NATO’s actions and alliances.
- While China sympathizes with the plight of ordinary Ukrainians, it cannot support Ukraine due to the reasons above. China’s stance is to empathize with Ukrainians while morally safeguarding its interests.
China refrains from directly supporting Russia in its conflict with Ukraine for two main reasons:
- Respecting international law and sovereignty: While China recognizes Russia’s military actions as a response to NATO’s eastward expansion and strategic security concerns, it also acknowledges that these actions infringe upon other nations’ sovereignty and territorial integrity. China upholds the principles of international law, mutual respect, and sovereignty, which prevent it from endorsing Russia’s direct involvement in the conflict.
- Preserving China-EU relations and economic interests: The European Union (EU) possesses a comparable economic strength to China, and China relies on Europe for investments and imported technologies. By avoiding direct support for Russia, China aims to prevent further deterioration of its relations with the EU. Taking a neutral stance helps China maintain a balanced approach and safeguard its economic interests.
The current Russia-Ukraine conflict divides the international community into three distinct camps. Seven countries support Russia due to their hostility toward the United States or reliance on Russian military assistance (e.g., Belarus, North Korea, Venezuela, and Syria). 47 countries oppose Russia, primarily aligning with the United States. Other countries, including China, India, and Brazil, adopt a neutral position in the conflict.
The dispute over whether China supports Russia or Ukraine has been prevalent on the internet. Some argue that Russia’s actions are in line with resisting pressure on China, advocating for full support to Russia. Others align with American imperialism and urge China to be consistent with the West.
Some scholars even propose “dropping the United States to resist Russia.” Despite the prevailing sentiment in support of Russia among ordinary people, the official stance remains one of neutrality, unwavering in its commitment. Neutrality is viewed as a principle that maximizes benefits and acknowledges the presence of influential figures who adhere to this approach.
During the Cold War, the United States’ victory over the Soviet Union was not solely due to its superior strength but also the crucial support from Western Europe. Although Europe and the United States share cultural, religious, and political similarities, it does not imply that China must sever ties with Europe.
In the competition between China and the United States, gaining the support of Europe is vital. Europe possesses significant economic and technological strength, but its fragmented nature prevents it from achieving a united front and corresponding international status. Openly supporting Russia would strain relations with Europe, resulting in an undesirable loss for China.
China maintains a good relationship with Russia but chooses not to directly support Russia in the conflict with Ukraine directly. This decision is based on China’s commitment to its own national interests and the principle of independence and non-interference. China values its longstanding neutrality approach, which it has developed over many years of engaging with countries worldwide.
China’s neutrality has had positive outcomes. As Western countries and their allies withdrew from the Russian market, Chinese products quickly filled the gap and gained a significant market share. Chinese companies now dominate sectors such as cars, heavy trucks, and construction vehicles in Russia. Additionally, China has secured a reliable energy supply through its neutral stance.
China’s leadership has garnered support from many third-world countries by resisting pressure from the United States and maintaining a stance of neutrality in international relations. This has allowed China to develop closer relationships with third-world nations, which serves as a crucial foundation in the global arena. China’s commitment to neutrality has been recognized, and it has gained trust, leading many countries to choose to settle transactions in Chinese currency.
In terms of the military perspective, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has become a prolonged war of attrition. Ukraine has depleted NATO’s ammunition and equipment reserves, and there have been casualties among NATO officers involved in training Ukrainian troops due to Russian actions.
This development is advantageous for China. It raises doubts about whether the United States will have sufficient ammunition supplies if a war breaks out in the Western Pacific.
China chooses to maintain neutrality in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine because it is in China’s best interests. The world is not simply black and white; neutrality allows China to help and persuade both sides toward a peaceful resolution.
China avoids imposing sanctions on Russia as desired by the West and instead maintains normal bilateral economic and trade relations to maximize economic benefits. For Ukraine, China provides humanitarian assistance to ordinary people and promises post-war reconstruction support, winning the favor of ordinary Ukrainians.
The situation is akin to two close brothers turning against each other. Instead of taking sides, China believes in maintaining good relations with both parties and persuading them to let go of past grievances. This approach allows China to navigate the conflict while working towards a peaceful solution.