China ‘confident’ they could ‘get away’ with Russian support without being sanctioned

China confident of ‘getting away with’ Russia backing says Leoni

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Professor Zeno Leoni, a defence studies lecturer at King’s College London, said China is “aware” the difficulty the West has faced sanctioning Russia makes it more unlikely for sanctions against China down the road. Prof Leoni said it would be “even more difficult” to sanction China due to the substantial global reliance on their exports and said Chinese President Xi Jinping likely took confidence from this reality.  

Professor Leoni said: “[China] are still confident that the European Union and the US won’t impose economic sanctions on them.

“To sanction Russia has been difficult, and actually we have not sanctioned Russia as much as we could. 

“But it would be even more difficult to sanction China and they are aware of that. 

“So, in a way they are aware that there is a risk [of supporting Russia] but they are also confident that they could get away without sanctions in the near future.” 

China has been treading carefully between backing its most important strategic partner in Russia without offending the West seriously enough to warrant sanctions. 

While China has called for an end to the war in Ukraine, they have refused to partake of sanctions against Russia and have repeatedly blamed the conflict on the United States and NATO’s expansion in Europe.

Last week, China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, held a virtual meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov to reaffirm their commitment to each other. 

Mr Wang said China was continuing to work with Russia to promote what he called “real democracy”. 

The comment was alluding to a shared foreign policy goal between the two nations of countering a US hegemony in global politics. 

Following a US meeting with Chinese officials later on, a US official said China was trying to achieve several “contradictory” goals in supporting Russia without upsetting the West. 

The official said: “What China is trying to do is to be with Russia, signal neutrality publicly and not be compromised financially. 

“Many of those goals are contradictory. It’s hard to fulfil them at the same time.”

And during the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore today, the United States and its allies traded barbs with China again, especially over Taiwan. 

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin told the conference that Washington will do its part to manage tensions with China and prevent conflict but that Beijing was becoming increasingly aggressive in the Taiwanese and Pacific region. 

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China and the United States, which have clashed in recent months over everything from Taiwan and China’s human rights record to its military activity in the South China Sea, appeared again at odds. 

Mr Austin and Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe met yesterday where they reiterated that they want to better manage their relationship. 

However, there was no sign of any breakthrough in resolving differences, with Mr Austin saying the United States would continue to stand by its allies, including Taiwan.

He said: “That’s especially important as the PRC (People’s Republic of China) adopts a more coercive and aggressive approach to its territorial claims.”

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