The Strategic Consequences of Russia-Ukraine Crisis on China

Joseph Nye, the American Political Scientist has correctly predicted that after the disintegration of the USSR, the tussle will start between China and USA. And of course, it’s been more than a year or so of the confrontation to be started between the two, be it in terms of trade wars or interference in each other’s regional groupings. China’s growing assertiveness in the neighborhood made the USA think of her as a pacing challenge and former attracted the attention of the Western nation towards her. Moreover, it hasn’t affected the technological and economic cooperation between the former and the latter. But the Present Russia -Ukraine crisis has again brought the USA-Russia confrontation to the forefront, especially in the Trans-Atlantic region. This is proving as a great strategic opportunity for China to enhance its power and authority in Indo-Pacific.

China’s adventurism in Indo-Pacific has transcended all bounds and the resistance is showed only by the USA-backed QUAD members like Australia, Japan, India, etc. The ongoing Russian actions in the Donbas region have provided a very sweet opportunity for China to claim its authority as a power rule over the Taiwan region. Political analysts are also comprehending that China will use the situation to get rid of her prolonged Pressure Cooker Syndrome (boiling internally), and will deal effectively with Taiwan. Simultaneously, China would also try to minimize the harmful effects on China’s economy and security. But not to be denied thing is that Russia’s entry into Ukraine will act as a blessing in disguise for China. Moreover, the USA’s mere act of putting sanctions on Russia and doing nothing else has marred her image among her allies which is beneficial for China. Even if NATO and USA decide to intervene militarily then also it will divert the USA’s attention and resources from Indo-Pacific and jeopardize its strategy in the region which would be again in China’s favor. The entanglement of Russia and the USA in Ukraine for a prolonged period would provide maximum development opportunities to China and strengthen her authority in her neighborhood and Asia which would make her unstoppable. The latter would seize the opportunity to achieve national reunification with Taiwan. The Ukrainian crisis would further consolidate the Sino-Russia economic relations as presently the latter is facing stringent economic sanctions. The only option with which Russia is left is to rely on China.

The Ukrainian crisis would also result in the breaking the back of the Western Powers to unite against China. China is now all set to become the World leader as apprehended by Xi Jinping that by 2050, China would establish its hegemony on the world stage for sure. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has shattered all the myths associated with the Russian integration into Europe and the relations between the two great powers would remain estranged for at least coming decades, as in international politics nothing is permanent. This would rather put the joint effort of USA-EU-Russia against China in limbo. China is in a better place now as cheap natural gas from Russia will still be coming into her territory and the same goes with European funds for investment and development purposes. The Chinese economy is an export-driven economy due to its very low cost of production and therefore a very attractive destination for Western companies to invest in.

China has taken a very balanced approach amidst this crisis as the former hasn’t openly criticized the latter and labeled that Moscow’s legitimate security concerns should be paid adequate attention. China also abstained from voting against the Russia in United Nations General Assembly. China was among the 35 nations that abstained from voting against China. But being diplomatic, she supported Ukraine too at the same time and urged nations to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty too, and also showed her conviction to end the war with the help of arbitration and diplomacy. Weeks before the invasion, Putin and Xi met in Beijing on the occasion of the Winter Olympics and announced that the new alliance would be having “no limit” entailing military aid too.  Substantiating this statement, China condemned the deeds of the US, UK, and other Western nations of supplying military weapons to Ukraine as this would add fuel to the fire. The Foreign Ministry Spokesperson of China even blamed the US for instigating the war between Little Russia and Russia. China even criticized the use of sanctions against Russia as they possess no basis in the international arena. China is quietly watching the shattering of European peace and contemplating how she can use the situation to obtain optimum benefits.  The slogan is making rounds in Taiwan today Ukraine, Tomorrow Taiwan. So, all eyes are on China now that how she is going to deal with the Latter. Moreover, Shrewd China has also measured the weakness and hollowness of the opportunist West which won’t be any hurdle now.

Medha Bhardwaj
Medha Bhardwaj
PhD research scholar in Russian and central Asian studies, JNU. My research area is Russia specifically and my series of articles are on its way to get published.