China's state-run media hasn't been afraid to broadcast news and analysis about the upheaval in Ukraine. Since early December, in fact, the Chinese media have been unflinching and mostly unconstrained in their effort to report the causes of the protests, as well as the potential consequences for the Ukrainian people and government. The journalistic enterprise is well served by this commitment to the truth. Apparently, so is the ruling Communist Party, which views unrest anywhere in the world as a teaching moment for those who might clamor for more rapid reforms in China.

This perspective was concisely expressed last week in an unsigned editorial published by the Global Times, an offshoot of the People's Daily, the party's official mouthpiece. Unlike its often cryptic masters, the Global Times is unswervingly direct in its opinions, which are widely assumed to reflect those of China's more hawkish military and foreign-policy minds, among others.

The editorial wasn't hawkish, but it was instructive, especially for those wondering why China's state media have devoted so much coverage to Ukraine: "Generally among countries which suddenly transform into Western-style democracy, it's the small countries, single-ethnicity countries, and single-religion countries which are likely to succeed. Meanwhile, complex, multi-ethnic societies with multiple religions will struggle to manage the change."