Why China fears the Putin precedent

Beijing is wary of Russia's Ukraine actions and probably just as confused about how to respond as America and Western Europe - but for very different reasons.

In a visit to Japan last week for discussions with some officials in the Shinzo Abe administration, the topic of Russia’s virtual annexation of Crimea was frequently raised by my Japanese hosts. Although Japan has few interests in that part of the world, the prospect of a military power using force – or at least the threat of it – to seize control of territory claimed and administered by another country is not a worry unique to the former Soviet Union republics. As we all know, Japan has a dispute with China over areas in the East China Sea. China is also in disagreement with the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia over areas in the South China Sea, and with India in Arunachal Pradesh.

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