The Russian media and government (two sides of the same coin) have declared that the Chinese leadership is ‘in agreement’ with the newly-established Russian occupation of Ukraine’s Crimean region, but the Chinese haven’t been quite so enthusiastic. China has mastered the art of the contentless diplomatic non-statement, and the results are beautiful.
The China Daily quotes Liu Jieyi, China’s representative to the UN, who was able to issue a statement so utterly devoid of meaning, it baffles the mind:
China is deeply concerned about the current situation in Ukraine […]
We condemn the recent extreme and violent acts there and have been urging the relevant parties in Ukraine to resolve their internal disputes peacefully within the legal framework so as to safeguard the lawful rights and interests of all ethnic communities in Ukraine and restore normal social order at an early date […]
There are reasons for why the situation in Ukraine is what it is today.
Masterful work, Liu. There are reasons why the “situation” in Ukraine “is what it is,” as opposed to, you know, no reasons. It’s hard to decipher exactly what Liu meant by his statement, but that’s likely its real purpose; words vaguely in support of “the relevant parties,” without being specific enough to commit China to one side or the other.
Russia has been touting “the coincidence of Russia’s and China’s positions on the situation in Ukraine,” and Putin seems to assume Xi’s support. The China side is much foggier and, according to The Diplomat, “China’s geopolitical strategy requires Beijing to at least tacitly support Russia,” even if that falls short of material support.
For now, in other words, Chinese support for the Russians will likely come in the form of Xinhua and Global Times editorials, but not with significant diplomatic support or boots on the ground. Putin probably reminisces about that lovely time when Russia and China were two peas in a homoerotic-propaganda pod, like in the wonderful poster above.