Her comments received a brief response from the White House, which accused China of supporting separatist movements of nation-state sovereignty. “It’s an interesting twist, isn’t it?” said Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby.
He said China had contradicted itself by saying it would not support unilateral sanctions against Russia while blaming the United States for the conflict.
“No mention at all in their statement about the over 150,000 troops and the threats that Mr Putin has been lobbying against Ukraine for many weeks now, including just yesterday,” he said.
China said it was against sanctions from the United States, Australia and other Western countries in Russia. “We are consistently against all illegal unilateral sanctions,” she said, noting that U.S. sanctions had increased 10-fold over the past 20 years and had been ineffective.
‘Taiwan is not Ukraine’
Responding to suggestions that a successful Russian invasion of Ukraine would encourage China to take action against Taiwansaid the foreign ministry said there was no comparison between the two situations.
“Taiwan is certainly not Ukraine. Taiwan has always been an inalienable part of China’s territory. This is an indisputable historical and legal fact,” she said.
Taiwan, or Republic of China as it is formally called, was established by Chiang Kai-shek nationalists in 1949 after fleeing mainland China when Mao Zedong’s Communist Party took control. Although the island is a self-governing democracy, it does not have full independence.
China’s envoy to the UN, Zhang Jun, on Thursday also called on all parties to “exercise restraint”.
China’s comments came as Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he believed China was watching the West’s response to Russian aggression in Ukraine “very close” as he issued a new warning about Beijing’s hopes in the Taiwan Strait.
He again called on China, which recently reached a “no limits” agreement with Russia on their respective support for Western setbacks, to condemn the Kremlin’s actions.
China’s conflicting stance on a Russian invasion of Ukraine highlights growing hostility between Beijing and the United States and its allies. Analysts said that while it serves China’s interests to have the United States distracted by a conflict in Europe, a war in the region does not serve its economic interests at a time when it also does not want to get its EU trading partners offside.
Caught on the wrong leg
“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a gross violation of international law that requires universal condemnation of everyone, including China. Respecting the integrity of national borders is axiomatic to the global order. It also happens to be a core provision of China’s declared foreign policy doctrine,” he said. former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
Yun Sun, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Stimson Center, said China was taken aback by Vladimir Putin’s move toward Ukraine this week. While it served Beijing’s interests in Russia to push back against NATO and force the West to negotiate, it did not support a war in Ukraine.
“The most direct reaction on the morning of February 22 in Chinese political community is a sense of shock.
“After endorsing the theory that Putin only stopped and that the US intelligence service was inaccurate as in the case of the invasion of Iraq, the Chinese did not foresee a real invasion of Russia.” she wrote.
“Beijing had expected Putin to invade Ukraine two weeks later [Xi Jinping met Vladimir Putin]it would have been more cautious with its close alignment and commitment that binds Beijing to Putin’s carriage. “
Opportunity for a deeper collaboration
While Beijing would be reluctant to formally offer Russia economic relief from Western sanctions, analysts said it could quietly sanction deeper cooperation on energy or approve a currency swap, as it did in 2014, after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Saturday called the Minsk agreement “the only way” to resolve the Ukraine situation.
The comments contradict Putin’s statement that the agreement on the Ukrainian settlement had ceased to exist.
Conflict over Ukraine is expected to further escalate tensions between China and its Western critics, particularly Australia.
A leader in China Dailya Communist Party’s mouthpieceaccused this week Scott Morrison of playing the “anti-China card” ahead of the federal election.
That is what the Australian Government said this week Chinese sailors had aimed a laser rangefinder at a Royal Australian Air Force P-8A surveillance aircraft in Australia’s exclusive economic zone last Thursday.
Meanwhile, Japan filed a formal protest against China this week after a Japanese diplomat in Beijing was temporarily detained while on guard. China claimed that the Japanese official was involved in inappropriate activity, but did not provide details.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Mr Putin met on the sidelines of the Winter Olympics earlier this month, pledging to opposed any extension of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Europe and warned that there were “no prohibited areas for cooperation”.