In a surprising move on October 12, 2021, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov declared that Taiwan is part of mainland China. This is the latest move in Russia’s tightening relationship with China.
While on a visit to Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan on October 12, Lavrov made it clear where Russia stands on the issue of Taiwan. The island nation, which the People’s Republic of China insists is a renegade province, has been in the news lately as the US and China have made provocative gestures with their military assets in the area surrounding Taiwan. However, no kinetic conflict has come about yet.
The much-talked about “Pivot to Asia” is now coming into effect and tensions between the US and China are mounting at increasing rates. “Russia, like the overwhelming majority of other countries, considers Taiwan to be part of the People’s Republic of China,” Lavrov declared during his visit to the Kazakh capital. “We have proceeded and will proceed from this premise in our foreign policy.”
Often forgotten is how Russia usually recognized the People’s Republic of China as the only legitimate government of China, though it maintained informal relations with Taiwan. Contrast that to Russia’s hostile neighbor in Ukraine, who has adhered to a strict “one-China” principle where it does not recognize Taiwan whatsoever and treats the PRC as the only legitimate government of China.
This is another sign of the increasing drift Russia has made towards China in recent years. US foreign policy towards Russia has frankly been pretty petty since the Cold War ended. Encroachments in the Balkans (an area traditionally aligned with Moscow), NATO enlargement towards Russia’s traditional sphere of influence, US involvement in propping up Muslim insurgents in the Caucus, and increased sanctions directed towards Russia have made it clear that the US wants to make Russia subservient to it.
The Trump administration blew a genuine opportunity to restore some normalcy to US-Russia relations by continuing to sanction Russia, attacking private military companies associated with it in Syria, and providing lethal aid to Ukraine. Now, Russia is in China’s orbit.
To be honest, you can’t blame Russia. The West has done everything to alienate it and treat it like a pariah state. The fact is that China is not sanctioning Russia, launching Color Revolutions against it and countries in its backyard, and it’s definitely not putting military assets in areas close to Russia’s sphere of influence like NATO does. All told, Russia has every reason to align with China to balance against the US.
The latest statement Lavrov made on Taiwan just further illustrates the deepening ties between the two Eurasian heavyweights. American policymakers have no one else but themselves to blame for this geopolitical predicament.