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The Wednesday Politics Thread Rides the Tiger

Good morning Politicados, and welcome to your Wednesday politics thread.

骑虎难下

“If you ride a tiger, it’s hard to get off.”

As Putin’s war in Ukraine continues to pressure countries worldwide to make clear where they stand, all eyes are on China as recent reports indicate that Russia has reached out to China for aid. Whether such aid would actually extend to munitions remains to be seen, as so far China has sought to maintain distance from the conflict aside from calling for a cease fire and criticizing the West for behavior they see as having instigated Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. China is too important to remain much on the sidelines in this though, and substantial changes in China-Russia relations as a result of this war seem inevitable, with far-reaching implications for global trade and security.


U.S. raises concerns about China aligning with Russia at meeting it calls ‘intense’

U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Monday raised concerns about China’s alignment with Russia in a seven-hour meeting with Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi as Washington warned of the isolation and penalties Beijing will face if it helps Moscow in its invasion of Ukraine.

“We have communicated very clearly to Beijing that we will not stand by…(and) we will not allow any country to compensate Russia for its losses,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told a regular briefing in Washington.

“China firmly opposes any words and deeds that spread false information and distort and smear China’s position,” Yang said, in an apparent oblique reference to Washington’s claims about support for Russia. China and the United States should strengthen dialogue, properly manage differences, and avoid conflict and confrontation, he said.

Reuters [archive]

China says it does not want to be impacted by Russia sanctions

China’s foreign minister has told his Spanish counterpart his country does not want to be impacted by Western economic sanctions imposed on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine last month, according to state media.

“China is not a party to the crisis, still less wants to be affected by the sanctions,” Wang Yi said, according to a readout of a phone call with Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares that was published on Tuesday.

Al Jazeera [archive]

China says Taiwan ‘taking advantage’ of Ukraine as island sends more aid

China’s government on Wednesday lambasted Taiwan’s humanitarian aid for Ukraine and sanctions on Russia as “taking advantage of other’s difficulties” after the island announced it was sending more funds donated by the public for refugees.

Asked about Taiwan’s aid and sanctions at a news conference in Beijing, Zhu Fenglian, a spokesperson for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said Taiwan’s government was trying to latch onto the issue for its own purposes.

Taiwan’s government says that on Ukraine it has a duty to stand with other democracies.

Reuters [archive]

Opinion: Chinese ambassador: Where we stand on Ukraine

Qin Gang is the ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the United States.

As a Chinese proverb goes, it takes more than one cold day to freeze three feet of ice. The long-term peace and stability of Europe relies on the principle of indivisible security. There must be a balanced, effective and sustainable European security architecture. The priority now is to achieve a cease-fire to protect civilians from war. But as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council and a responsible major country, China will continue to coordinate real efforts to achieve lasting peace. We stand ready to do whatever we can and work with other parties. Our ultimate purpose is the end of war and support regional and global stability.

Washington Post [archive]

‘I’m on the frontline in Mariupol’: the Chinese reporter embedded with Russian troops

In a flak jacket and helmet, the Chinese reporter Lu Yuguang stands on the side of a road as a Russian tank roars past. “I’m on the frontline in Mariupol,” he says into the microphone. He then interviews a Russian soldier who says he’s not nervous as he’s been “fighting for eight years”. In another shot, Lu talks with a group of Russian soldiers in the back of a military vehicle.

The dispatches are unusual for their extraordinary access – Lu, a veteran war reporter for a Chinese news outlet, Phoenix TV, is perhaps the only foreign correspondent embedded with Russian troops as they continue the brutal invasion of Ukraine.

The Guardian [archive]

A Chinese Vlogger, Alone in Ukraine, Combats Russian Aggression—And Haters Back Home

Wang Jixian, a software programmer from Beijing, is one of the last Chinese nationals still in Ukraine. Instead of fleeing, he is posting videos from Odessa in what he calls a two-front battle: against the Russian invasion on one side, and against his own compatriots back home on the other.

To the Russians, he has called for peace and expressed solidarity with Ukrainians, lambasting the Russians for attacking civilians. “What sins did the little girl in my neighborhood do beyond not finishing school work?” he said in a video this month.

To the Chinese back home, who have flocked to his video feed on the WeChat messaging platform by the millions since the first Russian missiles began flying into Ukraine, he has pushed back vociferously against support for the invasion.

Wall Street Journal [archive]

QAnon followers believe Trump is purposely pronouncing China wrong in secret Ukraine code

QAnon conspiracy theorists reportedly believe former President Donald Trump’s past mispronunciation of the word China as “Chy-na” is actually a secret code word meaning Ukraine.

According to the theory, a QAnon believer claims they “discovered” that there is a place in Ukraine named “chy-na,” and believes Mr Trump was secretly referring to this location when he used the term “China virus”.

Rather than understanding Mr Trump’s use of the term as a racist means of deflecting blame for his administration’s missteps in handling the virus, QAnon believers think he was actually cluing them in on Russia’s forthcoming invasion of Ukraine.

Independent [archive]

Have a happy hump day everyone! No matter how frustrated you feel that the Ides of March passed so uneventfully, the McSquirrel Rule remains in effect. Spiral responsibly (with minimal doom) and try to remember to check the lovingly cultivated clampost to ensure freshness. This compulsive thread refresher thanks you in advance <3