The Russia-Ukraine conflict has not changed Beijing’s overall positive view of the international environment but has highlighted its concerns about threats to its domestic stability from “colour revolutions” as well as its own security conundrum in East Asia.
This has been demonstrated in the official pronouncements of Beijing on the conflict, as well as in media and academic commentary, where, whilst carefully sticking to the neutral position, China has in effect largely sympathized with Russia, seeing analogies with its own strategic position in East Asia and alleged Western efforts to undermine the regime via ideological destabilization.
The indirect effect of the conflict for China has been Russia’s turn towards Beijing, which has brought deliverables in the form of renewed arms and gas deals. Furthermore, the Russian actions in Ukraine showed the efficacy of grey zone tactics that China has itself been employing in its territorial disputes with neighbours. However, the Crimea analogy is not a useful analytical tool as it neglects the different situation China faces in its disputes.