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China joins forces with Russia in opposing Nato expansion: Why has Beijing got involved?

Russia could ‘put foot on throat of Germany’ says expert

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In recent months tensions between Russia and the West have heightened over concerns that the former could launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Russia has repeatedly denied it has any plans to attack its ex-Soviet neighbour, and has issued a series of demands relating to Nato and its movements in eastern Europe. Now, Chinese President Xi Jinping has thrown his support behind the proposals. So, why exactly has China backed Russia’s demands?

On Friday, Moscow and Beijing issued a joint statement outlining their agreement on a number of issues facing their respective countries.

The statement was released after a visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin for the Winter Olympics.

Within the statement China said it agreed with Russia’s stance of opposing greater expansion of Nato within Europe.

Specifically, the two countries accused Nato of supporting a Cold War ideology.

China’s backing comes as relations between Russia and the West continue to strain over the situation in Ukraine.

More than 100,000 Russian troops are positioned at different points along the border the two nations share, raising fears of an imminent attack.

The lengthy joint statement did not refer directly to Ukraine but Nato was mentioned on several occasions.

As part of a list of demands issued by Mr Putin to the West last year, he wanted assurances that Nato would never assimilate Ukraine as a member.

Why would China offer its support?

Towards the end of 2021 the People’s Republic of China (PRC) increased its level of engagement with Taiwan – an island nation located off the coast of mainland China – regularly flying military jets into the island’s defence zone.

China views Taiwan as a breakaway province that will eventually be reunified with the mainland.

To date the US and several other western countries have verbally opposed what they view as Chinese provocation, with the US warning it will defend Taiwanese interests in the event of an attack.

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Within the joint statement, Russia supported Beijing’s One China policy, which asserted China will one day rule again over Taiwan.

Chinese President Xi Jinping could view Russian support as a way of strengthening his country’s own stance on the international stage.

In addition, the two countries said they were “seriously concerned” over the Aukus alliance which was announced last year.

The pact between the UK, US and Australia will see the latter build nuclear-powered submarines as part of efforts to boost security in the Asia-Pacific region.

However, China sees the alliance as a way of countering its own interests in the South China Sea.

What are Vladimir Putin’s Nato demands?

As part of a series of demands issued by Russia last month, the Kremlin was seeking a ban on Ukraine entering Nato and a limit to the deployment of troops and weapons to Nato’s eastern flank.

Mr Putin also wanted Nato to remove any troops or weapons deployed to countries that entered the alliance after 1997, and demanded that the West provide Russia “legal guarantees” of its security.

No further expansion, including the accession of Ukraine into the alliance, was also listed as part of an eight-point draft treaty that Russia wanted the West to agree to.

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