As Russia and U.S. Struggle, China Rejoices
Published: August 25, 2014 (Issue # 1825)
With multi-billion dollar energy deals between Moscow and Beijing recently being pushed through, China, the world's second-biggest economy, is benefiting the most from the spiraling tension between Russia and the West over the violence in Ukraine.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban earlier this month compared the European Union's sanctions policy against Russia to "shooting oneself in the foot," and experts on China said Friday that Beijing would be better served by not answering U.S. calls to punish Russia.
Nonetheless, the U.S. seems determined to get China onside. Last week, in an interview with Lithuanian news portal Alfa.Lt, the U.S. State Department's coordinator for sanctions policy Daniel Fried, said Washington was continuing its campaign to drum up support for sanctions on Russia and was seeking allies in Asia, namely in South Korea, Singapore and China.
"We had consultations with China and will continue our consultations," Fried said.
So far, the U.S. has been joined by the EU, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland in slapping various degrees of economic sanctions on Russia over its role in the increasingly bloody Ukraine crisis.
China — Asia's most powerful economy, and a partner of Russia in energy-related trade — has been asked to join the sanctions before but has been reluctant to dance to Washington's tune.
The White House is not in a position to force the issue either. The U.S. economy and trade have become so intertwined with China that Washington does not possess any real tools that could be used to convince Beijing to follow its policy, analysts said.
In addition, Chinese officials have repeatedly said that the sanctions tactic is ineffective and will only lead to retaliatory measures from Moscow, a prediction that came to pass earlier this month when Russia imposed a one-year food import ban on countries that targeted it with sanctions, causing billions of dollars in estimated damages.
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