Since the start of the Ukraine war, Beijing has gone from refusing to call it an invasion to voting against the UN’s suspension of Russia’s membership. A former top White House national security official said that Beijing needed Russia to compete with the U.S despite its contradicting behaviors. It would do everything to prevent Putin from losing power.
Evan Medeiros, former senior director for Asian affairs at the White House’s National Security Council, told the Chinese-edition Voice of America on April 14 that although Beijing’s actions were full of contradictions, its bottom line was to maintain Putin’s power. However, Medeiros considered this a possible significant threat to China.
He said if Russia lost the war and had its tail between its legs, the Chinese would be OK with that since Russia would be more dependent on China. Therefore Russia could help China compete with the U.S. in the long run.
But with a Russia where Putin was out of power and politically unstable, Medeiros said that was the absolute bottom line for China. Therefore, the regime would do everything it could to prevent that outcome.
According to Susan Thornton, former Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, the U.S. and Western allies’ sanctions would push China and Russia closer together since their relationships are based on opportunism.
She also mentioned that the Chinese regime was opportunistic, and it had not positioned itself as a conditional friend or an all-weather friend and ally.