Friday, March 24, 2023

Ryan Hass, Xi Jinping, China, Russia

Interests, Not Ideology, Should Drive America’s Approach to China Ideologues prefer to understand the U.S.-China relationship as a contest between good versus evil. They take comfort in clean divisions between democracies versus autocracies. They like parallels between the current U.S.-China great power contest and the U.S.-Soviet Union Cold War. The United States triumphed over the Soviets in the Cold War, after all, so why not repeat the cycle again now with China, they ask. .......... invoking Cold War analogies misdiagnoses the nature of the U.S.-China relationship and creates a false hope that the United States has the capacity to compel the collapse of China. ........ Any American attempt to treat China as its existential enemy (a la the Soviet Union during the Cold War) would isolate the United States from its friends and allies, none of whom have any enthusiasm for joining an anti-China containment coalition. ....... Not even America’s closest partners in Europe or Asia would sign up for a role in erecting such a global economic partition. ......... Trade data does not support arguments that China is seeking to bifurcate the global economy, though.

Over 150 countries view China as their largest trading partner, making China the world’s largest trading power.

Even as Beijing pursues more statist economic policies at home, it continues to look for opportunities to gain leverage by locking in other countries’ dependence upon China for future economic growth. ......... a recognition that the bilateral relationship is deeply competitive. ......... Both countries also are battling each other to dominate the frontiers of innovation in technological fields that will define the coming century, such as quantum computing, biotechnology, artificial intelligence, and clean energy. ............. bilateral trade in goods hit a record in 2022, nearing $700 billion ........ by virtue of their positions as the world’s two most powerful countries, the United States and China also face planetary interdependence. From climate change to the global economy and pandemics, they both are harmed or helped by their (in)ability to pool capabilities to confront shared threats.......... The sooner leaders in Washington and Beijing embrace the framework of competitive interdependence for understanding the nature of U.S.-China relations, the better they will be able to compete without resort to conflict. The framework pushes both sides to coexist within a heightened state of competition, not out of amity but rather a sober recognition of the parameters within which the relationship operates. The hard truth is that neither the United States nor China would be able to achieve their national ambitions if they end up in conflict with each other. ........... the goal of strategy is to minimize risks and maximize benefits. The current trajectory of U.S.-China relations is moving in the opposite direction. Risks of conflict are rising, while benefits from the relationship for American and Chinese citizens are receding. ......... a degree of strategic maturity that has been in short supply in recent years ......... The current downward trajectory of the relationship, if not arrested, will continue to generate sharp incidents of growing intensity. Expecting that U.S. and Chinese leaders would manage all such future incidents wisely and calmly requires the triumph of hope over reason. ........ What is needed now is clear-eyed, evidence-based, interest-driven thinking about how the world’s two most powerful countries can compete without resort to conflict, both now and in the future.

China as Peacemaker in the Ukraine War? The U.S. and Europe Are Skeptical Chinese officials say Xi Jinping’s upcoming trip to Moscow is a peace mission. But U.S. and European officials say he aims to bolster Vladimir V. Putin....... And even a call by Mr. Xi for a cease-fire would amount to an effort to strengthen Mr. Putin’s battlefield position, they say, by leaving Russia in control of more territory than when the invasion began. ...... A cease-fire now would be “effectively the ratification of Russian conquest,” John Kirby, a White House spokesman, said on Friday. “It would in effect recognize Russia’s gains and its attempt to conquer its neighbor’s territory by force, allowing Russian troops to continue to occupy sovereign Ukrainian territory.” ......... for Chinese officials to come out of the meeting claiming “we’re the ones calling for an end to the fighting and nobody else is.” ....... In an article published in a Russian newspaper on Sunday, Mr. Xi wrote that China had pursued “efforts to promote reconciliation and peace negotiations.” ......... Skepticism of one of Mr. Xi’s stated goals pervades thinking in Washington and some European capitals. American intelligence agencies have concluded that relations between China and Russia have deepened during the war, even as Russia has become isolated from many other nations. ........ The two countries continue to do joint military exercises, and Beijing has joined Moscow in regularly denouncing the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. China remains one of the biggest buyers of Russian oil, which has helped Moscow finance its invasion. ......... Chinese officials have at no point condemned the invasion. ........... “Western countries led by the United States have implemented all-around containment, encirclement and suppression of China, which has brought unprecedented severe challenges to our country’s development.” ....... But China remains firmly anchored in the global economy, and Mr. Xi and his aides want to avoid being seen as malign actors on the world stage, especially in the eyes of Europe, a major trade partner. ....... Mr. Xi and Mr. Putin have a strong personal affinity and, as of this week’s state visit, have met 40 times since Mr. Xi became China’s leader in 2012. Mr. Putin called Mr. Xi a “dear old friend” in an article published in a Chinese newspaper on Sunday, saying the two enjoyed the “warmest relationship.” ......... China’s recent mediation of an initial diplomatic rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran had boosted notions of China as a peacemaker. ....... China is not a close partner of either country and has a very specific economic interest in preventing the two from escalating their hostilities — it buys large amounts of oil from both. .......... Mr. Xi has not talked to Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, since the war began, much less asked for his perspective on peace talks. ........... Mr. Zelensky has said he would enter peace talks only if Mr. Putin withdrew his troops from Ukrainian territory. That includes the Crimean Peninsula, which the Russian military seized in 2014, and the Donbas region, where that same year Russian troops stoked a pro-Russia separatist insurgency. ........... Qin Gang, the foreign minister of China, spoke by phone with Dmytro Kuleba, the foreign minister of Ukraine, and stressed that the warring sides should “resume peace talks” and “return to the track of political settlement” ......... Analysts in Washington concur. “I don’t think China can serve as a fulcrum on which any Ukraine peace process could move,” said Ryan Hass, a former U.S. diplomat to China and White House official who is a scholar at the Brookings Institution. ......... Mr. Hass added that China would have a role as part of a signing or guaranteeing group for any eventual peace deal and would be critical to Ukraine’s reconstruction. “I believe Zelensky understands this, which is why he has been willing to exercise so much patience with China and with Xi personally,” he said........... they saw it as a further sign of China’s friendship if not alliance with Russia, as well as an effort by China to present itself as a mediator in the war. ....... He suggested that Washington wanted the war to continue to further weaken Russia. “Some forces might not want to see peace talks materialize,” he said. “They don’t care about the life and death of Ukrainians or the harms on Europe. They might have strategic goals larger than Ukraine itself. This warfare must not continue.” ........ many European officials, like their Ukrainian and American counterparts, are convinced that early talks on a peace settlement will be at the expense of Ukrainian sovereignty. ......... “It is not a peace plan, but principles that they shared” .

Japan’s Prime Minister Becomes Latest G7 Leader to Visit Ukraine Fumio Kishida, who has been seeking a more active role for his country in international affairs, made an unannounced trip to meet with Ukraine’s president. ......... Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has galvanized Japan’s foreign and military policy, stoking concerns about the costs of geopolitical instability. Policymakers and the public alike worry that the country would be unprepared to handle a crisis in its own backyard, whether North Korean aggression or an attempt by China to take the self-ruled island of Taiwan. ....... Rahm Emanuel, the U.S. ambassador to Japan, said the prime minister’s show of solidarity with Mr. Zelensky was in contrast to the partnership between Mr. Xi and Mr. Putin, calling the alignment between the Chinese and Russian leaders “nefarious.” ........ “Prime Minister Kishida stands with freedom, and Xi stands with a war criminal,” the ambassador wrote. ....... A spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry responded to news of the visit by saying Japan should “help de-escalate the situation instead of the opposite.” ....... The war has raised concerns about Japan’s reliance on other countries for food and energy, most of which it imports. Prices for commodities such as natural gas jumped after the invasion, putting cost pressures on Japan’s production of electricity. In response, the country has pushed for closer relationships with its allies and broken a decades-long deadlock in military spending as it plans to double its budget over the next five years. ....... Mr. Kishida embarked for Ukraine from India, where he had met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on issues including protecting freedom of navigation in the Pacific. ........ In a speech on Monday at the Indian Council of World Affairs, a research institute in New Delhi, Mr. Kishida said that Russia’s war had driven a “paradigm shift” in global affairs. ..... “Russia’s aggression against Ukraine oblige us to face the most fundamental challenge: defending peace,” he said, according to prepared remarks. .

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