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China’s Difficult Balancing Act in Russia-Ukraine Crisis

Author: Meia Nouwens 

Affiliation: Chinese Defence Policy and Military Modernisation, IISS London

Organization/Publisher: International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS)

Date/Place: March 4, 2022/London, UK

Type of Literature: Article

Word Count: 1750


Keywords: China, Russia, Russia-Ukraine Crisis 


The inconsistency of China’s narrative regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine shows Beijing’s difficulty to balance its role in the crisis. The author examines the inconsistency of China’s attitude as it tries to stick with a long-held principle while keeping a valuable strategic partner. Chinese diplomat Wang Yi published China’s official statement on 26th February regarding the invasion, which emphasized respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty, and support to settle the conflict through diplomatic and peaceful resolution. However, Beijing is reluctant to use language that criticizes and condemns the Russian invasion. Moreover,  Wang Yi stated that Russia had security concerns that should be taken seriously. Earlier in February, China publicly announced to deepen its relationship with Russia and to maintain normal trade. But now China is being threatened for maintaining any valuable relationship with Russia as it could be affected by such trade cooperation, since it could be caught up in the sanctions that the Western bloc has imposed on Russia. Therefore, Beijing does not support the use of sanctions and claims that it has no basis in international law. Finally, the author addresses the Taiwan question and the speculation that China could follow Russia’s Ukraine-invasion model in Taiwan; accordingly, such slogan has been popping up in Taiwan which says “today Ukraine, tomorrow Taiwan”. However, some analysts argue that what happens in Ukraine has nothing to do with the Indo-Pacific. The author argues that China won’t follow in Russia’s path on Taiwan, as China has seen how Western countries reacted to Russia’s actions.

By: Salman Nugraha, CIGA Research Intern



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