Monday, March 27, 2023
Fatalism is not an option for addressing China-Russia relations his 40th face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. ......... Over the past year, China has expanded trade links with Russia and amplified Russian propaganda. ........ He is a cold-blooded calculator of his and his country’s interests above all else. ....... lock Russia in for the long term as China’s junior partner. ....... Xi flatters Putin in ways he does not any other world leader. ........ The two countries fought a border conflict in 1969, when Xi turned 16. During Xi’s formative years, the Soviet Union maintained a massive military presence along the Sino-Soviet border, deploying up to 36 divisions.......... For Xi, cementing Russia as China’s junior partner is fundamental to his vision of national rejuvenation. ............ Xi likely also sees the benefit of Russia distracting America’s strategic focus away from China. .......... Given China’s dependence on imports for food and fuel, Xi likely also values the secure and discounted supplies of these critical inputs that Russia provides........... China will remain committed to navigating Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in a manner that keeps Russia as its junior partner. Seen through this lens, China’s amplification of Russian propaganda, its continuous diplomatic engagement, its ongoing military exercises, and its expanding trade with Russia all are supportive of its broader objective........... Russia’s strategic value to China requires that Moscow not objectively lose in Ukraine, though. Thus, China’s second objective is to guard against Russia failing and Putin falling.......... As Russia’s trade with the developed world has plummeted, China has stepped in to fill the gap. China-Russia trade exceeded a record-breaking $180 billion last year (roughly one-quarter of the volume of U.S.-China trade)......... China’s third objective is to try to de-link Ukraine from Taiwan. Chinese leaders grate at the suggestion that Ukraine today foreshadows Taiwan tomorrow. They want the world to accept that Ukraine is a sovereign state and Taiwan is not, and that the two should not be compared. ........... Faced with these Chinese objectives, many American, European, and Asian policymakers might reasonably conclude that there is no prospect for dissolving the Sino-Russian entente, so they should seek instead to frame China and Russia as two sides of the same coin. According to this logic, doing so could cause China to pay as high of a reputational price as possible for being an accomplice to Russia’s barbarism in Ukraine. ........ No Ukrainians’ lives will be improved by worsening public perceptions of China. ......... there are still meaningful things Russia is withholding from China that it conceivably could give if the relationship truly moves toward a “no-limits” partnership. These include Russian support for a greater Chinese role in the Arctic, Russian permission for Chinese forces to access its constellation of bases around the world, Russian support for China’s submarine and anti-submarine warfare programs, and deeper and more directed global intelligence cooperation. ......... at the urging of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and others, Xi exhorted against the threat or use of nuclear weapons. China has thus far refrained from proving lethal assistance to Russia. Beijing has not recognized the breakaway republics in Ukraine. ........... Beijing is not a credible fulcrum for any peace process, though it is conceivable that China could play a role as part of a signing/guaranteeing group for any eventual peace deal. ........... The Ukrainians are sober to the scale of the reconstruction bill that awaits them at the end of the fighting. They will both want and need Chinese contributions. .......... will China exercise its leverage to encourage off-ramps and oppose further escalation? Will China condemn attacks on civilians? Will China support future investigations to hold perpetrators of atrocities in Ukraine to account? Will China continue to oppose all threats or uses of nuclear weapons? Will China continue to refrain from recognizing breakaway republics? Will China contribute resources now to lessen the suffering of Ukrainian refugees? Will China commit to materially support Ukraine’s reconstruction? ......... Ultimately, Beijing will not disavow Moscow.