All China Program News Commentary March 21, 2022

An Uncomfortable Friendship: Understanding China’s Position on the Russia-Ukraine War and Its Implications for Great Power Competition

On WBUR’s "On Point" and Fox 2 KTVU, Center Fellow Oriana Skylar Mastro shares insights about China's alignment with Russia and the worldwide implications of its calculus on Ukraine.
Putin and Xi
Getty Images

In February 2022, China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin declared a partnership with no limits. Soon after, Russia invaded Ukraine, complicating the relationship of the two nations.

In conversation  WBUR's "On Point" with Meghna Chakrabarti, Center Fellow Oriana Skylar Mastro discussed the dynamics of the China-Russia relationship, and the implications of the war in Ukraine. 


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"We shouldn't expect China to be forthcoming about support for Russia in Ukraine."
Oriana Skylar Mastro

According to Mastro, what China wants from the Russia-Ukraine War is a quick resolution through a negotiated settlement that provides Russia security assurances from the West and China legitimacy if they need to use force over Taiwan. "The China-Russia alignment is extremely deep," said Mastro "but the scope [of their security partnership] is very narrow." At present, Russia helps China challenge U.S. hegemony in Asia, but "we shouldn't expect China to be forthcoming about support for Russia in Ukraine."

Mastro also spoke to Fox 2 KTVU following a two-hour phone call between President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping, in which Biden Warned Xi of ‘Consequences’ if China aids Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Mastro remarked that China has "not come out in condemnation of this blatant use of force and China can't stand on the sidelines and expect for its reputation not to be tarnished if they continue to support Russia, even implicitly."

Oriana Skylar Mastro on KTVU with a host of the show "Mornings on 2"

Mastro suggested that this moment has serious implications for the U.S.-China great power competition and that success in the U.S.-China relationship "isn’t about [the two powers] but about [their] relationships with the rest of the world...the United States is trying to compete with China economically, politically, and militarily around the world and [the United States has] commitments everywhere...China is very focused on the region, at least militarily, and that makes it difficult for the United States to compete."

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