Ten ways Putin’s Crimea intervention re-opens the door to territorial claims against Russia.
Nobody benefits more from Putin’s move in Crimea — and has bigger sanctioning potential on Russia over the long term — than China.
2. During the age of European colonial expansion in the 19th century, China was forced to cede the Far East and parts of Siberia to Russia.
3. During the last century, in 1960s and early 1970s, there were border tensions and even a number of armed clashes between China and the Soviet Union.
4. Small parts of Russian territory were then quietly ceded to China. While the two countries recently agreed to accept the current borders, China claims much larger chunks of what is now Russia.
5. As if to “settle” these claims by osmosis, Chinese settlers have been steadily moving into Russia’s remote, economically depressed and underpopulated regions.
6. By asserting its historic sovereignty over Crimea, Russia has set a dangerous precedent for the Chinese as they look over their northern border.
7. Unlike the poor Crimea that Russia just seized, those vast empty spaces of Russia’s Far East are full of all kinds of natural resources.
8. Energy resources are what China’s booming economy craves. And now China’s citizens live there too, much like ex-Soviet Russians residing in Crimea.
9. Russia’s Crimea strategy creates a legal precedent for other countries that have “alternative” border preferences, including China, to follow suit if the relevant opportunities arise.
10. Count on Beijing to bide its time – and, unlike Putin, not to do anything precipitous or unlawful. But when the time comes, it will not hesitate to re-assert its territorial claims against Russia.
After the Crimea incident, Russia will have no one to blame but Putin for providing a convenient excuse for an eventual Chinese land grab.