Why China’s own interests will decide whether it supports Putin’s Ukraine invasion or not

There is a long history of border disputes between China and Russia, and one which almost led to all-out war in 1969. Whether the ‘friendship’ between Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping will lead to actual Chinese support for the assault on Ukraine may come down to more practical matters

An apparent friendship between the two leaders Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping seemed evidence of a new Sino-Russian axis. But things aren’t quite that simple. Picture: Sputnik/AFP via Getty

The Amur river in China tracks the long and winding north-eastern border with Russia. Near the river in the district of Aihui, a remote museum tells the whispered history of Russia’s “imperialism” and the “stolen” territories of China. The subject matter of the museum is considered so sensitive that no Russians are allowed in.

As reports emerged last week that Russia had asked China for military help in Ukraine, analysts began to parse the relationship ...