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Is China Siding With Putin in the Ukraine Crisis?

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang YiPhotograph by Giorgio Cosulich/Getty Images

China’s leaders are struggling to come up with a comprehensible position on the crisis in Ukraine. The Chinese might naturally sympathize with Vladimir Putin, someone willing to stick it to Western leaders such as President Obama. However, China has long opposed actions that smack of interference in other countries’ internal affairs, in part to keep outsiders away from such sensitive issues as Tibet and Chinese dissidents.

So for now, the government’s solution seems to be simple: obfuscate. The Chinese and Russian foreign ministers spoke by telephone today, and while Russia’s Sergei Lavrov said afterwards that the two countries are in agreement about the crisis, China’s official spokesman shied away from taking a stand.