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China’s response to Russia’s war against Ukraine has been heavily scrutinized and criticized.

While Chinese officials have expressed concern about civilian casualties, they have declined to condemn the attack, which they regard as a response to NATO expansion, and they have declared that they will not join the West in imposing financial sanctions on Russia. Yet China has hardly given full-throated support to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The question is whether this relatively neutral stance by China could prove crucial to preventing further dangerous military escalation.

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