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Checkpoint Asia

Russia Stood Alone. China Didn’t Help Vote Down Trump’s Syria UN Resolution

Plucky Bolivia was the only nation to stand by Syria and Moscow

A missed opportunity by the over-calculating Beijing

Russia’s proposed UN Security Council resolution envisaging a speedy and realistic investigation into Douma incident was voted down by a triple veto. US, UK and France all voted against it.

However an earlier US-proposed resolution, which proposed an investigation mechanism that couldn’t possibly work and would have opened an avenue for the American use of force had to be vetoed by Russia alone. Bolivia was the only other nation to vote against it as China merely abstained.

China did so albeit it had previously called for restraint and for no side to resort to force which should have naturally made it predisposed to oppose the American resolution. Likewise the Chinese did so albeit the newly-appointed Chinese defense minister was in Moscow talking up ties between the two armed forces and countries.

It has long been Chinese philosophy not to stick its neck out at the UN. Beijing rarely vetoes anything that does not concern its immediate interests and never alone. Additionally China has its own, more immediate American problems right now with Trump threatening a trade war and is presumably reluctant to provoke the US president into further enmity. Finally it is clear that in Beijing’s strategic calculation China benefits with the US and Russia at each other’s throats.

With US distracted by hostility towards Moscow it can not afford to at the same time act too aggressively against China, while the US pressure on Russia means Moscow has little choice but at least ensure the friendship of China.

Nonetheless, things are looking pretty grim for Russia right now (let’s not kid ourselves, in the Middle East the Empire holds escalation dominance) and a little support, no matter how symbolic, could have gone a long way towards securing long-term Russian appreciation. An opportunity missed for Beijing.