In this episode of the ChinaPower Podcast, Dr. Tong Zhao joins us to discuss China’s views on the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the potential lessons China may learn. Dr. Zhao begins by describing the evolution of Chinese reactions to the invasion, from optimism of its impacts on China to uncertainty. He says that, in China, there is a common perception that Russia and Ukraine are comparable to China and Taiwan—particularly the belief that Ukraine and Taiwan allow themselves to be used by the West to undermine Russian and Chinese interests. Dr. Zhao then explains that the West’s comprehensive sanctions against Russia and military support for Ukraine reinforce China’s fear that the West seeks to strangle countries with different political systems. Despite this fear, he says, the survival of Russia’s economy and the ambivalence of non-Western countries are demonstrating to China that Western sanctions can be weathered. Finally, Dr. Zhao discusses how the invasion of Ukraine might change the global geopolitical landscape, and that he thinks the invasion will significantly impact China’s foreign policy going forward.
Dr. Zhao is a senior fellow in the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, based in Beijing. His research focuses on strategic security issues, such as nuclear weapons policy, deterrence, arms control, nonproliferation, missile defense, hypersonic weapons, and China’s security and foreign policy. He serves on the board of directors of the Asia-Pacific Leadership Network for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament and on the advisory board of the Missile Dialogue Initiative. Dr. Zhao is also an associate editor of Science & Global Security and is a member of the International Panel on Fissile Materials.