China has taken a swipe at the West for condemning Russia over Ukraine and the MH17 plane disaster. What does this tell us about the future relationship of the two powers?
I think you can look at this question on two levels. Firstly, China is paranoid about other countries commenting on its own internal affairs. The tried and true principle of its foreign policy is ‘we will not comment on your internal affairs, so you will not comment on ours.’
And we can see this in motion with the independence of Crimea. There was a directive that went out to Chinese media not to talk about Crimea in the context of Tibet and the Xinjiang which is in the far west.
There is this real fear that if there is a precedent that is set in Crimea it could be seen to be parallel with the situation in China.
So I think that explains to a certain extent the response of the Chinese government to the Crimea and also, to a certain extent the MH17 plane crash.
On a second level there are some similarities between the respective presidents of the two countries, in that they both are pushing a non-Western, non-EU universal values approach to managing societal relations in their countries.
So Mr Putin has this ‘Eurasianism’ in his thought-bank, which is something that has been evident for quite some time. And this ‘Eurasianism’ which sits also in this idea of the Eurasian Union, is founded in opposition to the European Union.
And China likes that, because China is also trying to promote its own model distinct from the Western model, and it basically says, again not commenting on internal affairs, that ‘we will develop our own model of doing things’.
So I think the Chinese government likes it when other countries, such as Russia, propose ways of doing things that are not based on Western models of liberalism.