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China Ukraine Crisis

China and the Ukraine Crisis

China’s handling of the Putin-engineered annexation of Crimea from Ukraine into the Russian Federation reflects deeply competing Chinese interests. On the one hand, Beijing values its strategic partnership with Russia — a partnership tracing back to 1996 — especially now, when Sino-U.S. relations are tense over the intertwined issues of Washington’s “pivot” to Asia and Chinese cyber-espionage against U.S. advanced weapons research and development. In Washington there is a growing sense that the military gap between China and the U.S. is narrowing rapidly because of Chinese cyber-penetration of U.S. military-industrial firms and approaching a transition point between rising and incumbent paramount powers, which may be especially dangerous. Japan under Shinzo Abe’s second government (in office since December 2012) also has begun courting India with unprecedented vigor. Even more startling, New Delhi is responding with an unembarrassed embrace of Tokyo. Beijing’s trump card of “the history issue” does not play very well in New Delhi. Given these elemental shifts in the balance of power that are in play, Beijing has no interest in loosening its strategic partnership with Russia. In terms of energy supply, a falloff in European purchases of Soviet natural gas also would not be bad for China, perhaps prompting Moscow to offer China lower prices, easing one of the hurdles to expanded Russo-Chinese energy cooperation over the past decade or so.

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Blair

The Clash of Historical Memory: The “Century of Humiliation” vs. the “Post-WWII Liberal World Order”

The U.S. and China share many fundamental interests. Their economies are so tightly inter-twined that any disruption would be extremely painful to both sides. There are no substantial, quantifiable disagreements between the two countries — meaning that there are no direct territorial disputes and neither country would gain by directly threatening the other’s vital interests. With so little to gain, and so much to lose, one might conclude that the probability of armed conflict between them would be negligible. But, it is not reassuring that the current disputes are not about “real” resources. Arguments about what are ultimately relatively small assets could be settled by economic agreements and compromise. The current disputes between the U.S. and China are more dangerous than they first appear because they are driven by each nation’s elite and public core beliefs, which were learned from key national historical experiences.

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