News / Asia

China Cautiously Supports Crimea’s Secession

FILE - China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei conducts a news conference in Beijing.
FILE - China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei conducts a news conference in Beijing.
China repeated calls for restraint in Ukraine on Monday, a day after a controversial referendum in Crimea overwhelmingly supported seceding from Ukraine and joining Russia. Issues of separatism and self-determination remain sensitive topics in Beijing, and observers have been closely watching China’s response to the situation.

On Monday the Chinese foreign ministry reiterated calls for caution in Ukraine and said the international community should play a constructive role for the relaxation of tensions.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said China always respects each country's territorial integrity.

People in Crimea chose to separate from Ukraine on Sunday, in a controversial referendum opposed by the United States and the European Union, which accused Russia of heavy inteference in the balloting.  Western diplomats declared the vote a violation of Ukraine’s constitution.

Beijing walks fine line

In forming an official response to Ukraine's crisis, China has been walking a fine line.

By sending military forces and calling for a referendum in Crimea, Russia has evaded two of China's core diplomatic principles: non-interference in other countries' affairs, and protection of territorial integrity.

Despite being an ally of Russia at the United Nations, Beijing abstained from a resolution to declare the referendum in Crimea illegal.

While the draft measure failed to pass because of Russia's veto, some analysts considered China's abstention as a mark of uncertainty in Beijing's backing of Moscow.  But analysts in China dismiss such views.

Feng Shaolei, director of the Center for Russian Studies at East China Normal University, said that in the Ukrainian crisis, there is much common ground between China and Russia.

The two countries, Feng said, agree on the causes of this crisis and throughout this crisis have learned more about each others' position.

The idea of a popular vote to decide the fate of a country's territory remains very sensitive in China. Separatism is seen as an extremist ideology, and one that could pose a dangerous challenge to the Chinese government’s authority in ethnically diverse areas such as Xinjiang or Tibet. China does not tolerate any political movements that advocate separatism within its own borders.

Feng said China has been very cautious in its response to Crimea because it understands the complications in the region. He said Ukraine has long been under Russia's influence, but also had very close relations to the West. Historically, the country has become a gathering spot for the two civilizations.

In such a scenario, he said, it is important for China to remain cautious.

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Comment Sorting
by: Lincolnist from: China
March 18, 2014 12:48 AM
USA had did something dishonored and stupid that caused the bad situation in Ukraine. China is taking a calm, dispassionate view of the situation and playing a constructive role in maintaining the peace of region and world. President Obama should learn something from Chinese culture, to be an honest person and real peacemaker. self-centeredness can not solve the problem.
In Response

by: Jonathan huang from: Canada
March 19, 2014 12:23 AM
@mortimer santos, why don't you free Aboriginal Americans first? Anyway, Crimea has 60%russian, but Tibet has 50% Han. Referendum isn't gonna work for Tibet, lol
And we can easily move more Hans into Tibet if we feel threat.
In Response

by: Mortimer Sanderson from: Setauket, NY
March 18, 2014 3:22 AM
Free Tibet!
Let the Tibetan people vote for secession!

March 17, 2014 3:02 PM
In order to win Russia's support on Senkaku and the South China Sea,the Chinese have secretly supported Russia's move in Crimea.This Chinese double-standard and backhand dealing,I hope, would backfire and set a precedence for the following regions to do the same,Inner Mongolia would vote to join with Mongolia,Xinjang to join with their Turkic Kazakhstan brethrens,and Tibet to join with India
In Response

by: Jonathan huang from: Canada
March 19, 2014 12:28 AM
Well, China is good at copying, right? Seems China is copying America, lol
Yes we will bomb the hel out of you, and only for our own interests. We, Russian and Americans are all the same, and we are proud of it. So what? You gonna Crimea river? Lol
In Response

March 18, 2014 4:09 AM
Russia's threatened use of force has subdued the Ukrainians and deterred NATO's involvement.China,similarly has been using force,torture and violence to subdue and force their control over the Tibetans,Mongols and Uighurs.The Japanese did the same in WW2 to instill fear into the Chinese.Military superiority and ruthlessness are the deciding factors as admitted by yourself :"Truth is only within the range of cannon". Tyranny wouldn't last forever as proven by history.China has never been a peace-loving nation,and China has always threatened the use of force and economic sanctions to influence other countries' foreign policies to achieve their evil territorial ambitions.The red communists' ideology is to help liberate all the oppressed people in the world,and it looks like some of these oppressed people have already started to rise up against the Chinese colonialists.Present China is no better than imperial Japan and Putin's Russia
In Response

by: Jonathan huang from: Canada
March 17, 2014 11:30 PM
We don't give you a dime. We have anti-separatism law. If anyone dare to undermine our sovereignty, we will crush them with no merci. Truth is only within the range of cannon! Dare you!

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
March 17, 2014 1:47 PM
China understands the West's game in encroaching in Ukraine. China understands that the aggression was kick-started by the West wanting to obtain a range within Russia's backyard. What for, no one knows. It's not as if there is an imminent expectation of another major war. Why the West keeps thinking of Russia only in relations to wars and blocs is not clear, but that is the cause of the trouble in Ukraine. While they EU distracts itself with Russia, China is making progress with monopolizing markets even within the EU enclave. Could the European Union let Russia be? That is the question; and that is the trouble that is Ukraine at the moment.

by: Sam from: USA
March 17, 2014 11:40 AM
So then China is logically going to let Tibet vote on secession, since they choose to support for another country. Oh but wait, this is too close to home and doesn't contribute to their self-serving attitude.
In Response

by: Dan from: USA
March 17, 2014 3:52 PM
Yea that's logically right, but it happens if and only if the west dares to sent in boots and occupy either Tibet or Xinjian, and then call for a referendum. Just like what Russians had done to poor Ukranians.

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