A revealing shift in China's official attitudes to foreign policy lies in Beijing's lack of criticism over the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea. Its silence has been conspicuous in light of China's longstanding pronouncements on the inviolability of state sovereignty and the dangers of what it calls "splitist" movements that undermine a country's territorial integrity.
To be clear, Beijing has not endorsed Russia's military intervention in Ukraine and, in general, has called for restraint and negotiations among the parties. When China's foreign ministry spokesman was asked if the government would recognize Crimea as part of Russia after its residents voted to secede from Ukraine, he stated: "China always respects all countries' sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. The Crimean issue should be resolved politically under a framework of law and order. All parties should exercise restraint and refrain from raising the tension."