China ‘opposed to sanctions of any kind’ over Ukraine
RT:China opposes sanctions against Russia over Ukraine. Why do you think China is taking this position?
George Koo: I think it is a very consistent long-standing policy. They do not believe in confrontational sanctions as a way for international diplomacy. They think discussion and negotiation is the way to go. They have a fundamental principle which is opposed to sanctions of any kind.
In the case of the Russia-Ukraine situation it actually looks a bit more complicated because China also has a very long-standing policy on non-interference in others' domestic affairs. So now it becomes a situation when whether Russia is interfering within Ukraine domestic affairs, or Russia and Ukraine are dealing with a domestic affair which others, Western powers for example, should not be interfering. This part is a little bit complicated, but fundamentally China never believed in economic sanctions of any kind as a way to solve problems.
RT:Do you think this stance will in any way influence Washington's decision on further punitive measures against Russia?
GK: I doubt very much. I think China does not have the whole lot of influence on the diplomacy as practiced by Washington, and there is a lot of distrust and weariness from both parts. So it is not like a semi-partnership that will solve international problems, at least not at this point. It has reached the point where the two can come together and discuss and find a common solution. That has not happened before and it does not seem that in the case of Ukraine-Crimea situation it will happen.
RT:Are we seeing a new Russia-China alliance emerging, and could this have an impact on the global power balance?
GK: The global balance of power has very much been a Western concept, a Western idea, and in a certain way it was very much enforced during the Cold War. The Soviet Union, the Eastern Bloc versus the Western powers, the NATO nations. China has never been a part of these kinds of alliances one way or the other, I do not thing they are comfortable taking sides in this kind of situation. They wanted to get along certainly with the US to the extent possible, they are mindful of economic and other partnerships that they have with Russia, and I do not think they relish to be in the middle of this kind of confrontation.
RT:If tougher sanctions are imposed against Russia could China gain from this, by seeing stronger trade ties with Russia?
GK: Certainly, potentially, although China and Russia really have very strong economic cooperation in many areas. Energy is certainly one of them. In China’s scheme of things economic issues trump all other issues, and that is the way they have been in their practice around the world. So will the sanctions force Russia into the arms of China even more so? I do not know. It is hard to say.
RT:When it comes to the crisis in Ukraine itself, where does China stand?
GK: Initially they were very hesitant because there are conflicting issues here. One is supposedly Crimea, which was a part of the Ukraine territory, so from that point of view I think they are hesitant because it seems like Russia was interfering within domestic affairs. On the other hand everybody knows that Ukraine has been very much part of Russian civilization. And one can argue that this is a sort of internal squabble among cousins or even among brothers. From that point of view China will be very leery of participating in any sort of sanction action.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.