A report in The Voice of America notes that Georgia has asked China to use its influence to push for a resolution to a territorial flare-up with Russia. According to the report, Georgia's ambassador to China, Zaza Begashvili, made no comments on the Chinese response, but remains optimistic that:
as a member of the U.N. Security Council, [China] will express its opposition to this aggression against an independent state
As the WSJ's Gerald Seib notes, it probably isn't feasible to try to play China and Russia directly off against each other, as was sometimes possible when they were the two Communist behemoths during the Cold War. Nonetheless, I'm curious to see what China will do in this situation. Let's consider the two most obvious options:
Option 1: China does not assist Georgia
The likelier option if you ask me. As a still emerging power China is heavily dependent on its strategic partnership with Russia and isn't about to make any move that would place that partnership in jeopardy. Furthermore, if China intends to stick to its policy of "non-interference" (which, if one considers China's activities of the past five or so years, appears to be debunk regardless), interfering in the conflict becomes even more unlikely. While China may express its concern verbally, we all know that actions speak louder than words.
Option 2: China assists Georgia
I'm still trying to play this one out in my head, so bear with me. At present I can think of only two conditions under which any such thing would be likely. The first is China's image in the international community, especially now during the Olympics. Then again, if China was concerned with its image, I doubt the country would be complicit in the Darfur and Zimbabwean crises, among others. Nor would it bear such an atrocious human rights record with respect to its own people. Right. Condition #1 scratched.
Condition #2: Oil. The WSJ again reports that the conflict in Georgia is placing grave doubt on the country's reliability as an energy corridor bringing Caspian crude to global oil markets, and sending shockwaves through the world-wide supply chain. Indeed only today BP shut down a pipeline over security fears in Georgia. It's no secret that China is resource hungry, pursuing oil wherever it can get its hands on it. If the Chinese are to intervene (and that's a big "if") then I speculate that their only reason for doing so would be over oil. Indeed, China and Georgia maintain friendly relations and I doubt China would want to lose a potential oil resource. Then again, much depends on China's relations with other key players like Iran and various African states like Angola, Nigeria and Sudan from which China derives most of its oil.