Xi Weighs Up Support for Putin After Rebellion
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Xi Weighs Up Support for Putin After Rebellion


APLN member Shen Dingli was quoted in The Guardian, where he commented on how the Wagner incident was interpreted in China. Read the original article here.

Having initially made no comment, on Sunday, China’s foreign ministry described the rebellion as Russia’s “internal affairs” and expressed its support for Russia in maintaining national stability.

On Sunday, the Xinhua Chinese state news agency published an article suggesting that Prigozhin had backed down because Russian public opinion was overwhelmingly against him. China Daily published a report from Moscow’s Red Square that said “the daily life of Moscow residents has not been disrupted and remains calm and orderly”.

But many in China are not convinced. Yu Jianrong, an influential liberal scholar, posted a video of Russian locals reacting angrily to police moving into Rostov-on-Don, a city that had been captured by the Wagner group, suggesting there was some level of support for their cause. “I really don’t know what’s going on in this country,” Yu wrote to his more than 7 million Weibo followers.

Shen Dingli, a Shanghai-based international relations scholar, said the Wagner incident would lead to Russia’s increased dependence on China, while Beijing would take “a more cautious stance on Russia”. “Diplomatically, China needs to be careful with its words and deeds,” Shen said.

Others argue that Xi may be impressed by Putin’s handling of the insurrection. “The way that China might be looking at it is that Putin has proved to elites that he can handle enormous challenges to the country,” said Alexander Korolev, a senior lecturer at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, who focuses on China-Russia relations. “I don’t think that the Chinese government has jumped to the conclusion that there are big cracks to Putin’s regime,” Korolev said.

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