China backs 'principles' on Ukraine as Russia claims agreement

Published: March 3, 2014
Military personnel, believed to be Russian servicemen, walk outside the territory of a Ukrainian military unit in the village of Perevalnoye March 3, 2014. PHOTO: REUTERS

Military personnel, believed to be Russian servicemen, walk outside the territory of a Ukrainian military unit in the village of Perevalnoye March 3, 2014. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING: China, which consistently says it opposes interference in other countries’ internal affairs, is looking to “maintain principles” on Ukraine, it said Monday after Russia insisted the two were in broad agreement.

Moscow has appeared keen to stress that it has a major international ally on its military intervention in Ukraine, and Beijing frequently backs its positions against Western powers on thorny issues, such as the protracted conflict in Syria.

But analysts say China is torn between wanting to support Russia and keeping to its longtime opposition to foreign intervention, especially given its own separatist issues in the far-western region of Xinjiang.

When asked about Ukraine at a regular press briefing on Monday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Qin Gang answered indirectly.

“China has always upheld the principles of diplomacy and the fundamental norms of international relations,” he said.

“At the same time we also take into consideration the history and the current complexities of the Ukrainian issue. It could be said that China’s position is to both maintain principles while also seeking to be realistic.”

Qin also referred to his statement posted on the ministry’s website a day earlier, which said on the one hand that “China has long maintained a principle of non-interference in internal affairs (of other countries), and respects Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

But it also noted that “there are reasons that the Ukrainian situation is what it is today”.

Niu Jun, a professor of international affairs at Peking University, said China wanted to maintain its relationship with Russia yet had strong concerns about foreign intervention.

“It’s all very inconvenient,” he said. “That’s why they came out with a statement nobody can understand.

“What this statement is really saying is, ‘what Russia did was not right and China does not want to support this military invasion’. But China also wants to support Russia, so it came up with excuses” such as Russia’s history with Crimea and Ukraine’s internal situation, he said.

“Yet at the same time they realise this excuse doesn’t hold water, so they also threw in a mention of sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Earlier, Moscow’s foreign ministry said in a statement that minister Sergei Lavrov and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in a phone call noted “broadly coinciding points of view of Russia and China over the situation that has developed in the country and around it”.

Yet China’s account of the conversation was less direct, saying that the two men “thoroughly exchanged views on the matter” and agreed that “appropriately resolving” the situation was important to regional peace and stability.

Russia has found itself internationally isolated over its covert military intervention in Ukraine and on Monday its stocks and currency collapsed amid fears of a prolonged campaign.

The other members of the G8 on Sunday released a statement condemning Russia for violating international law and suspending their participation in a G8 summit set to be held in Sochi in June.

China is not a member of the G8.

China and Russia cooperated on vetoing three UN Security Council resolutions to put pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, although they voted through a resolution this month on allowing in humanitarian aid convoys.

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Reader Comments (4)

  • Mar 3, 2014 - 8:29PM

    Seems to me Russia and china could be up to something secret. Could this be the start to a Armageddon? Idk for sure, but relations between the united states and Russia are unstable. Relations between the u.s. And china are also unstable. china backing Pakistan, and Russia backing Syria. Russia claiming to defend Syria, and china vowing to protect Pakistan. Russia and America both trying to tap into the artic for oil ect. For some reason to me something doesn’t look right in the water. Ukraine calling on help from NATO , U.S and Britian. Plus Snowden being a defected, could he be talking to Russian officials? Hmmm. Recommend

  • Sexton Blake
    Mar 4, 2014 - 1:49AM

    The above article forgot to mention that US/NATO/Israel were complicit in helping a bunch of armed, unelected thugs break-in and illegally take over over the Ukrainian Government. A large percentage of Ukrainians are very close to Russia, and therefore Russia quite sensibly is attempting to calm down a Western instigated donnybrook by maintaining a low level presence in the Crimea. A similar situation prevailed in Georgia in 2008, but everything settled down quickly. In a way the current disturbance is almost amusing, but not quite. The West created the problem and now Russia gets the blame via a typical Western propaganda beat-up. .


  • Takoo
    Mar 4, 2014 - 3:44AM

    Support Russia for the sake of balance.
    The west is united, east should be united too

    China will need someone as well, someday


  • Mar 4, 2014 - 8:42AM

    America has never been supe power because during world war one and two it could intervene at the end of the war thats why it was not even affected by world economic depression and just got super power name from there but its nothing so let the would be super powers prove their weapon pro west and USA shovld expect total disastrous because it is just keeping the seat for super power like japan, china,russia north and south korea young historians we know who is who.


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