As I noted last week, one of the more interesting aspects of the international response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea was the reaction of emerging powers like China and India.
Despite the importance they have long placed on respect for sovereignty, all the emerging nations refused to criticize Russia’s seizure of territory belonging to Ukraine. Some, most notably India but also China to a lesser degree, came out in strong support of Russia. As I pointed out last week, this support was all the more surprising given that most of the emerging powers have potential secessionist groups within their borders. Why would China support Russia when Crimea declaring independence from Ukraine might inspire China’s Uyghurs, Tibetans and even people in Hong Kong?
As The Naval Diplomat and others have pointed out, Russia’s annexation of Crimea also could also benefit China in its territorial disputes throughout the Asia-Pacific. Indeed, there has been a lot of concern among U.S. allies and partners in the region that Russia’s seizure of Crimea will embolden China. This concern grew so vocal that a number of American officials have now openly warned China against trying to use the Russian model to advance its claims vis-à-vis Taiwan, the Senkaku Islands or in the South China Sea.