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China has remained largely supportive of Russia amid the country’s invasion of Ukraine, but that support has a breaking point, according to one expert.
“China has been cheerleading, and enabling… and protecting the Russians,” James Carafano, vice president of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy at the Heritage Foundation, told Fox News Digital.
But if China faced harsh penalties in the form of tariffs, that would change.
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“I think the Chinese would totally throw the Russians under the bus,” Carafano said. “Second, it creates a pain point for China.”
Experts have said that Russian President Vladimir Putin underestimated the resistance his military would receive from Ukraine, which led to a drawn-out invasion now entering its third week.
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Just this week, China’s foreign minister touted the country’s relationship with Russia as its “most important strategic partner.”
“No matter how perilous the international landscape, we will maintain our strategic focus and promote the development of a comprehensive China-Russia partnership in the new era“Wang Yi told reporters Monday at a news conference of the annual meeting of China’s ceremonial parliament.
“The friendship between the two peoples is ironclad.”
‘Clear indication’ where CCP stands
Heino Klinck, senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Fox News Digital this week that China’s comment is a “pretty clear indication” as to “where the Chinese Communist Party stands.”
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“The Chinese do have a strategic partnership and are unified by the fact that they’re both opposed to a world in which America maintains a key, if not the pivotal, leadership role,” he said.
Klinck said China is caught between not leaving Russia “in a lurch,” while also protecting itself from “being painted with the same brush as North Korea, Eritrea, Syria and Belarus.”
The United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution last week condemning Russia’s invasion, with 141 nations voting in support of the resolution. China was among the 35 nations that abstained from voting, while Russia, Belarus, Eritrea, North Korea and Syria voted against the resolution.
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Eyes on Taiwan?
Since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, speculation has mounted about whether Chinese President Xi Jinping will take the opportunity to invade Taiwan.
China views Taiwan, which sits off the coast of mainland China, as a breakaway province that will one day be a part of the country. Taiwan operates as an independent country.
As Xi likely weighs whether to invade Taiwan, the strength of his military will also come into play.
Russia is grappling with a fledgling invasion as the Ukrainians continue battling their foe, leaving an estimated 3,000 Russian soldiers dead. Carafano said Russia is showing that “no matter how incompetent [the Russian military is]”they’re really good at killing civilians.”
“It does not matter that they can not end wars. They’ve demonstrated that they’re willing to start them … lots of destruction and death, lots of refugees,” he said, noting no one should view the war as proof the Russian miliary is not a problem.
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Carafano said China has a similar issue with its military. It has not gotten into any wars to demonstrate its aptitude.
“The Chinese military has similar problems to the Russians in that they actually have not fought wars. And if you actually look at the Chinese operations on the border with India, they’re not terribly impressive. The Chinese have not actually demonstrated the capacity to do large-scale military operations, “Carafano said.
Nations sometimes need to be “more thoughtful about deterring reckless, incompetent people than deterring competent enemies,” Carafano said.
Since Russia launched its Ukraine invasion, more than 2 million Ukrainians have fled to neighboring countries, according to the UN
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The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said Tuesday that 474 civilians had been killed in Ukraine since the start of the invasion, while 861 were confirmed injured. The office estimated the real figures are actually higher.