by Alexander Mercouris
“OFFICIAL – CHINA RECOGNISES CRIMEAN REFERENDUM”
This is the clear meaning of the statement TASS reports that a senior official of the Chinese Foreign Ministry has made.
The fact that China recognises the Crimean referendum means that de facto (and surely before long de jure) China has recognised Crimea’s unification with Russia. Note also that the official has expressed support for Russia’s Ukrainian policy.
This is the clearest statement from an official source (as opposed to the news media) of China’s position viz the Ukrainian crisis that China has made to date. Because it is made by an official rather than a minister it has gone almost unnoticed. However that is how China works: statements of this sort are first floated in the media, then made formally but at a relatively low level, following which they become uncontested policy. Suffice to say that it is inconceivable that the official in question would have spoken out in this way without clearance from the very highest levels of the Chinese government and the fact that in his conversation to TASS he actually quotes comments made by Xi Jinping in telephone conversations with Putin puts that question beyond doubt.