Why the US Should Take Some Blame for What is Happening in Ukraine
Published: Mar 02, 2022 07:18 PM
Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

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The tragic outbreak of conflict between Russia and Ukraine has shocked the whole world. For the Chinese, both Russia and Ukraine are friendly nations, and we lament the current scenario. As peace-loving people, we never see military solution a wise option. Yet, while Putin’s approach may not be endorsed, his accusations of the US and the West are empathized by many in China. Because like Russia, China has also suffered the heavy-handedness of the US over the past 30 years. 

Putin accused the US for attempting to destroy Russia’s traditional values and impose on Russia its false values. The US has done the same to China — attempting to subvert China by “peaceful evolution” through engagement. Obviously, the US has failed. Instead of being derailed from its course, China is forging ahead on its broad new path, with pride and confidence. 

That the US attempts to choke Russia with the Ukraine card also reminds the Chinese of what the US did on the Korean Peninsula more than seven decades ago. Despite China’s repeated warnings, the US insisted on crossing the Military Demarcation Line, a move that forced the Chinese people into the war. With no other option, China made the hard yet historic decision to enter the war, to help North Korea resist US aggression and more importantly, for its own security. 

In the more recent years, with China’s rapid development, the US no long has as many leverages over China. In its limited toolkit, the Taiwan card therefore seems to be a convenient choice. 

The US declared in the Shanghai Communiqué that “Taiwan is a part of China” and “The United States Government does not challenge that position”. The US also stated in the August 17th Communiqué that “it intends to reduce gradually its sales of arms to Taiwan, leading over a period of time to a final resolution”. 

The above statements turn out to be little more than empty words. For all those years, the US has not ceased its arms sales to Taiwan. Between 2017 and 2021, the Trump administration approved 11 rounds of arms sales to Taiwan, totaling more than US$18 billion. In early February this year, the US approved another US$100 million worth of military equipment and services for Taiwan. 

Now, using salami tactics, the US is draining the one-China principle of its essence, distorting it and hollowing it out. It gives both overt and covert support for the Taiwan authorities’ efforts to expand “international space”. It has threatened and pressed countries which choose to establish or resume diplomatic ties with the Mainland of China. It even tried to deny the three China-US joint communiqués. Recently, the US has gradually eased restrictions on official interactions with Taiwan. US congressmen visited Taiwan, flied by US military aircraft. And just this week, a US delegation, led by the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and two former National Security Council senior directors for Asia, was sent to Taiwan. 

Recently, the US updated its Indo-pacific Strategy to contain China within “the first island chain”. A senior US official told reporters, with no disguise, that “we have a very limited ability to change China. But therefore, the bulk of our focus is where we actually think we have a lot of power to shape things, which is the strategic environment around China.” Isn’t this the Asian version of NATO? 
The US has a hand in almost all of China’s core interests including its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

On the South China Sea, the US has been stirring up trouble wherever and whenever it can, prodding certain countries into provoking China so that it can be cast as a bully coercing its smaller neighbors. 

On Hong Kong, the US has emboldened, if not openly supported, destabilizing elements there, calling the violence and vandalism they committed “a beautiful sight to behold” and plunging the city into chaos and disorder.

On Xinjiang, the US concocted the lie of the century with claims of “genocide” and slapped sanctions on China’s cotton and PV industries on the grounds of “forced labor” which is no less groundless than the “genocide” claim.

As someone who suffered similar injustices done by the US, Putin pointed out the crux of the problem: “This is not about our political regime or anything like that. They just do not need a big and independent country like Russia around.” Likewise, China has done nothing wrong to deserve the US sanctions, its bashing and containment. The only thing “wrong” about China is its success as a major country following a path of socialism. 

China is a peace-loving country that believes in not doing to others what it doesn’t want others to do onto itself. That said, a growing number of Chinese have come to realize that equality and respect don’t come through compromises. Resolute measures are sometimes necessary when unfair obstacles are put in China’s way toward peaceful development and a better life of the Chinese people. 

Some claim that by not condemning Russia, China has given up its longstanding principle of respecting countries’ sovereignty and territorial integrity. This is a distortion of China’s position.

It is exactly because China once suffered humiliation in its modern history and continues to face all kinds of US interference today that it cherishes and upholds its sovereignty and territorial integrity more than anyone else does.

Ironically, those most vocal about respecting sovereignty and territorial integrity are the countries that launched gross military strikes against sovereign states like Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. 
When the US shelled the Chinese embassy and killed three Chinese journalists during its bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, it explained it as nothing more than a “mistake”. No wonder when Ukraine asked Serbia to condemn Putin, President Vucic urged Kiev to condemn the US and the UK’s aggression on Serbia first. 

That many confrontations and injustices take place in this world is not because the purposes and principles of the UN Charter are getting obsolete. Rather, it is because for too long, they have not been truly honored. If international relations are still approached from a position of strength, the law of the jungle will take hold and peace will remain elusive.  

The author is a current affairs commentator based in Beijing.