By Alex Magno

… When the UN Security Council considered the resolution denouncing Russian actions in Crimea, the veto from Moscow was expected. The only suspense involved China’s vote on the matter.

Both Russia and China are permanent members of the Security Council and enjoy vote powers. China almost consistently voted with Russia on key issues in international politics, including the massive repression in Syria.

This time, however, China chose to distance itself from Russia without aligning itself with the western position on Crimea. Beijing did not need to deliver a veto. The Russian veto suffices to kill the resolution.

Nevertheless, the bold moves taken by Putin, the apparent helplessness of the western powers in the face of such audacity and the domestic popularity Putin reaps must be instructive for the Chinese leaders. Much as Beijing maintains its usual inscrutable posture on a matter not directly concerning China’s interests, its abstention raises concern.

To put it bluntly, what Russia did in Crimea with astounding swiftness, China could do in the South China Sea where barren shoals are hotly contested. It is a much easier maneuver for China to implant its forces in the contested (and unpopulated) shoals and reefs in the sea Beijing wants securely in its fold.

We can only wait and see the extent Putin has inspired his Chinese counterparts.


  1. manuel buencamino

    Randy David’s column is informative, with a little history thrown in. Alex Magno’s is speculative, with no history or any other information that would explain a parallel between Russia’s and China’s positions and motivations. The column, devoid of any context, simply asks, “will monkey see monkey do?” That’s as deep as it gets.