In the midst of the Ukrainian crisis, exacerbating the already highly charged ties between Russia, the EU and the USA, there is one big international player that silently stands aside to gain from recent events, regardless of the outcome. It keeps refusing having anything to do with the crisis and makes a point of staying on the sidelines. The country in question, of course, is China.
China has adopted a strictly neutral stance on the geopolitical mess, refusing to join the sanctions imposed by the West, but also never officially recognizing Crimea as a part of Russia or backing up Russia’s troop movement in the Ukraine, says the New York Times.
And its standing on the sidelines has already brought many benefits to China. As Moscow slowly drifted away from Washington and Brussels, it has found itself closer and closer to Beijing. Russia turned to China to release some of the sanction’s pressure, and the government responded. For instance, the two countries just struck a deal to build a 3,000km gas pipeline that will transport up to 38 billion cubic meters of Russian gas to China every year, starting in 2019. Such a move locks the two countries into a long term partnership providing massive gas supplies to the Middle Kingdom while easing Russian dependence on European gas markets, reports the Financial Times.
Another field where China could make wise use of the ongoing geopolitical tensions is in the arms industry. China could well use its renewed ties with Russia to import advanced weaponry from its neighbor, all due to the improved economic co-operation.
All in all, China seems to be playing wise on this crisis, and its position seems to have boosted its economy already. Should the West fear a Chinese-Russian alliance, then? Well, despite recent developments, many scholars deem it unlikely. “The notion of a Sino-Russian authoritarian axis against the West is nonsensical,” said Bobo Lo, a former Australian diplomat in Moscow, to the New York Times. “Although Putin has consistently downplayed the ‘China threat,’ this is never far away in Russian thinking.”
Image courtesy Pixabay.com