Beijing Increases Blame Campaign Against NATO for Russia-Ukraine Conflict

News AnalysisBeijing doesn’t just want to upend the U.S. system—it wants to replace it. China’s strategy for challenging the U.S.-led international order largely proceeds according to two separate yet interrelated prongs. First, Beijing expounds on the failures of Washington’s foreign policy, pointing to its consequences and castigating its interventionist principles. Second, Beijing simultaneously presents the Chinese model of governance as a superior alternative to the liberal democratic regime, highlighting selective economic metrics and espousing its principles of “greater good” Marxian collectivism over inhumane Western individualism. Both of these prongs have recently been on display. In the international realm, Beijing has continued to focus on the Russo-Ukraine war as a direct consequence of failed U.S. foreign policy. Throughout the conflict, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has continued to blame the outbreak of hostilities on U.S. foreign meddling and the reckless expansion of NATO. On April 26, CCP propaganda outlets ran multiple stories on the United States as an interventionist menace to the global community. This is not an isolated incident. Throughout the nearly two months since Russia first began its military operation, there has been a steady stream of headlines such as the “Role of NATO after end of Cold War: Pawn for U.S. in seeking hegemony” (People’s Daily) and “[NATO] … a monstrous remnant from Cold War days” (Xinhua). The final sentence of the former article summarizes the general sentiment that CCP propaganda has been attempting to emphasize: “The Ukraine crisis once again proves that the U.S. hegemony is the fuse for global instability and the U.S. is the largest perpetrator of turmoil in the world.” This evaluation is shared by decision-makers in the Kremlin, as well. Russia has presented multiple justifications for its military operation in Ukraine: denazification, securing national security interests in the Black Sea region, ensuring Ukrainian neutrality, and stopping the eastward spread of NATO. On April 25, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reiterated his country’s opposition to the transatlantic alliance. “NATO is essentially going to war with Russia through a proxy and arming that proxy. In war, as in war,” said Lavrov during a televised news segment. Yet all of these purported justifications for intervention have been predicated on one central premise—the same as that mentioned above in Chinese sources: the United States’ unipolar moment has passed, and the Wilsonian crusade for international liberal democracy undergirded by Washington’s economic (and military) hegemony is no longer viable. Russia has consistently blamed the current bloodshed in Ukraine on a confrontational U.S. military establishment. Rather than be subjugated by the latter, the Kremlin argues that it has had its hand forced by an America that refuses to accept the national security considerations of other nations. Instead, the United States seeks a subjugated system of client states that promote Washington’s interests at the expense of all others. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian gestures during a media briefing that referred to reports of atrocities in the Ukrainian town of Bucha, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs office in Beijing, China, on April 6, 2022. While declining to blame Russia, China has urged that the reports of civilian killings in Ukraine be further investigated. (Liu Zheng/AP Photo) On this point, China and Russia clearly agree. As such, both perceive the relative weakening of the United States as a necessary condition for the emergence of a multipolar world. The latter would be defined by an international balance of power in which regional power centers have their own respective sphere of influence free from the meddling of others—such as China in Southeast Asia and Russia in the post-Soviet space. In pursuit of this end, the second prong of Beijing’s strategy for undermining U.S. hegemony is to present the CCP example as an effective model of governance, both as a means for intimidating competitors in its geographic proximity as well as in offering a viable alternative to the system of liberal democracy espoused by the United States. As the flames of war continue to rage across Ukraine, China’s tacit support for Russia is, therefore, about more than just advantageous trade deals or expanded market access. Instead, it is about shining a spotlight on U.S. foreign policy and making the bloodshed a reflection of America’s political system in general. China has an apparent interest in the latter. CCP leadership perceives any poor optics for liberal democracy as inherently positive for the authoritarian communist alternative of the Chinese system. Not only does the former lead to needless war, as in the conflict over Ukraine, but it additionally fails to provide the same level of material benefit to its citizens as the latter. Recent reporting by The Wa

Beijing Increases Blame Campaign Against NATO for Russia-Ukraine Conflict

News Analysis

Beijing doesn’t just want to upend the U.S. system—it wants to replace it.

China’s strategy for challenging the U.S.-led international order largely proceeds according to two separate yet interrelated prongs. First, Beijing expounds on the failures of Washington’s foreign policy, pointing to its consequences and castigating its interventionist principles. Second, Beijing simultaneously presents the Chinese model of governance as a superior alternative to the liberal democratic regime, highlighting selective economic metrics and espousing its principles of “greater good” Marxian collectivism over inhumane Western individualism. Both of these prongs have recently been on display.

In the international realm, Beijing has continued to focus on the Russo-Ukraine war as a direct consequence of failed U.S. foreign policy. Throughout the conflict, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has continued to blame the outbreak of hostilities on U.S. foreign meddling and the reckless expansion of NATO. On April 26, CCP propaganda outlets ran multiple stories on the United States as an interventionist menace to the global community.

This is not an isolated incident. Throughout the nearly two months since Russia first began its military operation, there has been a steady stream of headlines such as the “Role of NATO after end of Cold War: Pawn for U.S. in seeking hegemony” (People’s Daily) and “[NATO] … a monstrous remnant from Cold War days” (Xinhua).

The final sentence of the former article summarizes the general sentiment that CCP propaganda has been attempting to emphasize: “The Ukraine crisis once again proves that the U.S. hegemony is the fuse for global instability and the U.S. is the largest perpetrator of turmoil in the world.”

This evaluation is shared by decision-makers in the Kremlin, as well.

Russia has presented multiple justifications for its military operation in Ukraine: denazification, securing national security interests in the Black Sea region, ensuring Ukrainian neutrality, and stopping the eastward spread of NATO. On April 25, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reiterated his country’s opposition to the transatlantic alliance.

“NATO is essentially going to war with Russia through a proxy and arming that proxy. In war, as in war,” said Lavrov during a televised news segment.

Yet all of these purported justifications for intervention have been predicated on one central premise—the same as that mentioned above in Chinese sources: the United States’ unipolar moment has passed, and the Wilsonian crusade for international liberal democracy undergirded by Washington’s economic (and military) hegemony is no longer viable.

Russia has consistently blamed the current bloodshed in Ukraine on a confrontational U.S. military establishment. Rather than be subjugated by the latter, the Kremlin argues that it has had its hand forced by an America that refuses to accept the national security considerations of other nations. Instead, the United States seeks a subjugated system of client states that promote Washington’s interests at the expense of all others.

Epoch Times Photo
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian gestures during a media briefing that referred to reports of atrocities in the Ukrainian town of Bucha, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs office in Beijing, China, on April 6, 2022. While declining to blame Russia, China has urged that the reports of civilian killings in Ukraine be further investigated. (Liu Zheng/AP Photo)

On this point, China and Russia clearly agree. As such, both perceive the relative weakening of the United States as a necessary condition for the emergence of a multipolar world. The latter would be defined by an international balance of power in which regional power centers have their own respective sphere of influence free from the meddling of others—such as China in Southeast Asia and Russia in the post-Soviet space.

In pursuit of this end, the second prong of Beijing’s strategy for undermining U.S. hegemony is to present the CCP example as an effective model of governance, both as a means for intimidating competitors in its geographic proximity as well as in offering a viable alternative to the system of liberal democracy espoused by the United States.

As the flames of war continue to rage across Ukraine, China’s tacit support for Russia is, therefore, about more than just advantageous trade deals or expanded market access. Instead, it is about shining a spotlight on U.S. foreign policy and making the bloodshed a reflection of America’s political system in general.

China has an apparent interest in the latter. CCP leadership perceives any poor optics for liberal democracy as inherently positive for the authoritarian communist alternative of the Chinese system. Not only does the former lead to needless war, as in the conflict over Ukraine, but it additionally fails to provide the same level of material benefit to its citizens as the latter.

Recent reporting by The Wall Street Journal states that CCP leader Xi Jinping prioritizes consistent economic growth above 5 percent and stable governance as a direct challenge to the U.S.-led system. It seeks to showcase how “China’s one-party system is a superior alternative to Western liberal democracy, and that the U.S. is declining both politically and economically.” Therefore, increasing output and reaching growth goals is imperative of geopolitical competition as much as it is for domestic prospering.

Many factors influence the decision-making of an international actor. The CCP may desire the spread of its variety of communism to other countries based on revolutionary zeal and Marxist social philosophy. However, the influence of a normative socialist principle (such as the latter) does not preclude the fact that Beijing also considers its security considerations as a nation-state.

The more players in the international system that adopt a top-down authoritarian style of governance similar to that of China—whether they nominally identify as Marxist or not—the more advantageous it is for Beijing.

It is ironic that the CCP constantly describes NATO as a remnant of the Cold War and accuses the United States of having an anachronistic foreign policy. Encouraging other countries to adopt a similar political model was a primary consideration in the geopolitical competition of the Cold War, in which the United States and the Soviet Union each tried to win adherents over to their respective political system as much as a matter of national security as of ideological competition.

Beijing may not place as much explicit pressure on other nation-states as the USSR, or the United States did during the latter half of the 20th century. Still, it certainly seeks to co-opt them to its system of stable and predictable—if oppressive—authoritarianism.

It is no secret that Beijing interprets the Russo-Ukraine conflict through the lens of Sino-American competition. However, it is important to realize that this goes beyond the realm of simple economic considerations or competing military interests—it is a battle for the political character of the global community.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.


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Dominick Sansone is a regular contributor to The Epoch Times. He focuses on Russia-China relations and U.S. foreign policy.