It has taken until today for China to react officially to the Russia's sending of troops into the Crimea. I was curious what China's position would be, since it jealously defends its territorial integrity, including its ultimate authority over Taiwan, which the U.S. recognizes to be part of China, but which the U.S. has periodically indicated it would use military force to defend in the event China attacked (this internationally recognized part of Chinese territory).
Today, People's Daily , the official newspaper of China's ruling Communist Party, ran several articles outlining the Chinese foreign ministry's official views.
It appears that it will be very difficult for the U.S. or its eastern European allies to get China to take part in any sanctions regime against Russia. China believes that the U.S. and Europe are at least as much to blame as Russia for the crisis in the Ukraine.
Based on the fact that Russia and Ukraine have deep cultural, historical and economic connections, it is time for Western powers to abandon their Cold War thinking, stop trying to exclude Russia from the political crisis they failed to mediate, and respect Russia's unique role in mapping out the future of Ukraine.China would be a critical piece in any attempt to economically isolate Russia. China shares a long border with Russia with good sea and rail links. China produces the kinds of consumer and industrial goods that Russia likes to import, while being a voracious consumer of the oil, gas, timber, minerals and military technology that Russia exports.
It is quite understandable when Putin said his country retained the right to protect its interests and Russian-speakers living in Ukraine.
Over the decades, Ukraine's population was divided along language barriers with much of western Ukraine advocating closer ties with the European Union (EU) while eastern and southern regions looking to Russia.
Although the EU has made efforts to broker a peace deal between Yanukovych and the opposition in order to solve the crisis, the situation in Ukraine rapidly worsened.
Right now, the West should show more appreciation for what Russia can do to solve the crisis in Ukraine. Given Russia's historical and cultural influence in the country, the Kremlin is the piece that cannot be missing in this political puzzle.
The West should also be honest with the fact that their biased mediation has polarized Ukraine and only made things worse in the country.
China is not playing it neutral in this, but leans toward, and gives support to, Russia. This is surprising given China's concerns about western meddling in China's own autonomous province, Taiwan.
Any attempt to impose harsh sanctions on Russia is likely to drive it more deeply into China's orbit, strengthening the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. This would be something more for President McCain and Vice President Palin -- and the clown car of WaPo editorial writers -- to kvetch about, but it would also surely be a cost to the U.S. to the extent it sees a stronger China as being an irritant to the U.S.'s trans-Pacific empire.