Had China backed Russia like the EU and the US back Ukraine, that would have been a tipping point for international politics. The world would have fallen apart again in two rival blocs: Europeans and Americans against Russians and Chinese, with Ukraine as the first battleground of a 21st century bipolar confrontation.
But that is not what has happened. While China’s rhetoric definitely favours Russia, its actual policy is more akin to non-intervention: it certainly does not reduce its relations with Russia, but it does not do anything more to support it either, while it keeps open its channels to the EU and the US and even Ukraine. In practice, the Middle Kingdom stays right in the middle.
The reaction of the various powers to Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine thus confirms that we are in a multipolar world. There are several powers, some of which cooperate more with each other than with others, but in the end each power pursues its own course towards each of the other powers in light of its own interests.
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