As tensions continue to mount in Ukraine, the international community is watching China’s position on the crisis with great interest. The stakes are high for China, but for now Beijing is trying to avoid taking a clear stance, hoping that its neutral posture will be well positioned whatever the outcome.

In this podcast, hosted by Carnegie–Tsinghua’s Paul Haenle, Professor Su Hao of China Foreign Affairs University explained that China faces a difficult balancing situation with the crisis in Ukraine. On the one hand, Su said, China and Russia have a strategic partnership, and Beijing understands Moscow’s concerns about the protection of its interests and people in Crimea. On the other hand, China does not support Russia’s undermining of international norms and law in Ukraine. Su suggested that China would cautiously encourage both sides to respect international norms and reduce tensions. However, Haenle added, it is unclear if this position is sustainable, given China’s enhanced influence and power. The international community increasingly looks to China for a more principled approach and a leadership role to help resolve international crises, not to simply position itself to be in the most advantageous position when all is said and done.

Su Hao

Su Hao is a professor at China Foreign Affairs University and the director of CFAU's Asia-Pacific Research Center and the Center for Strategic and Conflict Management. He is a member of the Chinese Committee of the Council of Security Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific and a member of the board of the China Association of Arms Control and Disarmament at the China Association of Asia-Pacific Studies. In 2004, Su Hao was a visiting fellow at the Silk Road Studies program. In 2001-2002, he served as a Fulbright Scholar at the Institute of War and Peace at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University.

Paul Haenle

Paul Haenle is the director of the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center. Prior to joining Carnegie, he served from June 2007 to June 2009 as the director for China, Taiwan, and Mongolian Affairs on the National Security Council staffs of former president George W. Bush and President Barack Obama.