China Must Choose Between Two Bad Options on Putin’s War

China Must Choose Between Two Bad Options on Putin’s War
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin at a joint press conference during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit in Qingdao, China, June 10, 2018 (AP photo by Dake Kang).

In recent weeks, there has been much speculation about the depth of China and Russia’s strategic alignment. Since early February, when the two sides released a joint statement during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Beijing for the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics, the argument that Moscow and Beijing are not merely aligned but in an overt alliance against the U.S. and the West more broadly has gained traction.

However, on closer examination, China’s actions in the leadup to and immediate aftermath of the invasion paint a mixed picture as to the extent of the bilateral relationship.

There is no doubt that the China-Russia relationship has deepened in recent years. A $117 billion deal signed during Putin’s Beijing visit for Russia to supply China with oil and gas from the Russian Far East supplements their enhanced energy ties in the aftermath of the Crimea annexation in 2014. They have also increased military cooperation as well as their political alignment against the perceived constraints of U.S. “hegemony.”

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