02/24/2022, 17.00
RED LANTERNS
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China's embarrassment over Russian invasion of Ukraine

The Chinese call for "restraint" and a diplomatic solution, ignores the fact that the situation is already out of control. United States accused of fomenting the crisis. Chinese business giants worried. Taiwanese microchip exports to Russia may be blocked. Japan ready for new sanctions.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - "China is carefully watching developments [in Ukraine] and asks all parties involved to exercise restraint to prevent the situation from spiralling out of control". This is the meagre statement issued by the Chinese Foreign Ministry after the Russian invasion of Ukraine began this morning.

China's embarrassment is obvious: with the Russian Armed Forces attacking Ukrainian territory from several fronts, the situation is already out of control. While Ukrainian cities are being bombed by the Russians, the Chinese ambassador to the United Nations, Zhang Jun, maintains that there is still room for diplomacy, and he does so without even mentioning the two countries in conflict.

Beijing is in an awkward position. It cannot openly support the Russian "quasi-ally", as this would be tantamount to justifying a flagrant violation of international law. For internal reasons, the Chinese government has always invoked the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state.

Xi Jinping's government had recently declared its support for Kiev's sovereignty and territorial integrity, but at the same time said it understands Russia's "legitimate" security demands in the face of possible NATO expansion. As with the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014, however, Beijing has not recognised the separatist republics of Ukraine's Donbass (Donetsk and Luhansk).

In an attempt to relieve pressure on the Kremlin, yesterday a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said the real "culprits" in the Ukrainian crisis are the US. Putin had been deploying thousands of troops in combat machinary along the Ukrainian border for months, but the Beijing diplomat pointed the finger at Washington for "increasing tension, creating panic and pumping up the danger of a possible conflict".

Some Chinese businessmen on the west coast have issued a stronger condemnation of Russian aggression. Speaking to AsiaNews, they pointed out that the invasion of Ukraine will lead to regional instability, damaging the global economy and thus also Chinese interests. All this just as the world had just begun to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Taiwan also condemned Russia's violation of Ukrainian sovereignty. Taipei has said the Russian attack reflects the Kremlin's desire to 'unilaterally change the status quo'. The Taiwanese government has not commented on whether it will join the sanctions by the US and its allies against Moscow. US media speak of contacts between Washington and the island's rulers to block technology exports - especially microchips - to Russia.

Japan has already imposed punitive measures on the Russians and said it is ready to coordinate with Washington and the Europeans for further restrictions.

"RED LANTERNS" IS THE ASIANEWS NEWSLETTER DEDICATED TO CHINA.

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