Ukraine's president, Viktor Yanukovich, and China's president, Xi Jinping, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Dec. 5. (Photo/CNS)
Xinhua News Agency on Dec. 10 reported that China and Ukraine on Dec. 5 signed a cooperative agreement which included this article: China, according to the UN Security Council Resolution 984 and the Chinese government statement on providing security guarantees to Ukraine on Dec. 4, 1994, promises unconditionally not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear Ukraine, and to provide security guarantees to Ukraine if Ukraine is attacked by nuclear weapons or threatened by such aggression.
Clearly, this is a guarantee for strategic alliance and an unusual nuclear protection umbrella. Ukraine is far from China and in no way affects the latter's national security. What ,then, is the need for such an agreement?
First, we need to examine UN Security Council Resolution 984, which promotes nuclear non-proliferation and encourages denuclearization. To achieve its goals, the agreement not only requests the Security Council to regulate countries who may carry out nuclear attacks or threaten to do so, but also promises to offer emergency assistance to their targets. Emergency assistance may refer to non-military aid, but a security guarantee definitely means military support.
Second, the Chinese government's announcement on Dec. 4, 1994 about offering security guarantees to Ukraine didn't mention nuclear attacks or the threat thereof, but this time its guarantees focus on nuclear weapons. Therefore, the two are quite different.
Then, under the agreement, against the threat of which party will China offer security guarantees to Ukraine? As we know, bordering Ukraine is Russia, a nuclear power and Belarus, which had 81 nuclear missiles stationed in its territory at the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, though these were all transferred to Russia by 1996. Ukraine inherited 5,000 nuclear weapons when it gained independence and may still have some nuclear weapons undestroyed. Under such circumstances, the NATO would not dare to attack Ukraine. It is likewise inconceivable that Russia would start a military conflict with Ukraine, because the Kiev region was once the cradle of the common culture of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine as early as in the ninth century.
On the surface, Ukraine does have some pro-US forces demanding to move closer to the European Union as soon as possible. In fact, some of the western Ukraine's youth groups trained and aided by some western NGOs have yet to reach the status of possibly destroying their cultural connection and race recognition. Therefore, chances for their collaboration with foreign forces to result in the case of military tension are also very slim.
Then, what's Beijing's real intention? I believe its main purpose is to amend its consistent position of "no first use of nuclear weapons." This is probably the reason why countries in the East China Sea and South China Sea have dared to provoke China in recent years over territorial claims. Since Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang took office, they have repeatedly taken new measures that are in contrast to Beijing's previous low-profile move to conceal its capability — that's probably because it's a reaction provoked by other neighboring countries or an inevitable result after it has significantly raised its compound power.
(Yu Ligong is an associate professor at Shih Hsin University in Taipei.)