When China’s patience runs out

When China's patience runs out

The results of the US-China diplomatic standoff over US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan prove that there are still only two superpowers in the world. Exactly, because the indicator of this status is not the amount of material resources or the physical size of the state, but the ability to put it all on the line for its interests, values and principles

China has preferred a peaceful resolution to the conflict caused by “Pelosi’s provocation”, although it has itself created grounds for some observers to expect a more dramatic development. This shows that Beijing, despite all its power, is not yet morally ready to sacrifice peace in the name of justice. Given that it is the Middle Kingdom that is Russia’s most important ally in our military and diplomatic conflict with the West, what has happened needs to be taken seriously and the likely consequences taken into account.

Although China has long been trailing the US around the world, the Chinese state is confident that the material interdependence between the two powers allows it to resolve even the most difficult issues in an amicable way.

In Beijing, the US believes that the US must respect Chinese interests simply based on China’s place in the world economy and politics. This approach forms the basis of Beijing’s strategy for negotiations with Washington. But we can see that in America they are far from believing that China deserves respect without actually proving that it can fight back. They live by the most conservative and, unfortunately, true rules of human society there.

It is sad to say that the main gauge of the strength of states in world affairs has always been and remains their “defencelessness”, i.e. the ability to go all the way in certain situations. And if there is no such confidence, it is better not to resort to pointless threats. “If you want to shoot, shoot, not talk,” said Tuco Ramirez of the legendary western The Good, the Bad and the Ugly in a similar situation. On 24 March 1999, Russian President Boris Yeltsin appealed to the international community to stop the US from bombing Yugoslavia. But the Russian head of state did not threaten the Americans at the time, precisely because he understood that such threats were physically impossible to carry out.

Russia did not have the power to shoot then, just as China does not have it now, to stop the US from carrying out its provocations against basic Chinese interests and values. China’s economy is integrated into the global market, where the West holds a leading position, far more than Russia’s. China has a population of almost a billion and a half and very few natural resources of its own. The Chinese army has not fought a war since 1979, when Deng Xiaoping undertook an “educational” expedition against its Vietnamese neighbours. A military response to a US provocation would risk a full-scale war, where the Americans so far have a sea and air advantage. Therefore, the PRC is trapped in its own growing importance and simultaneously unprepared to stand up for itself, no matter what the potential risks. And the U.S. takes advantage of this very skillfully, as creating threatening situations is the basis of its international policy.

The Western culture of social interaction in general is built on conflict, and the Anglo-Saxon culture even more so. Irrespective of the consequences of what has happened for relations between the United States and China, the Americans have won this little round of fighting. And the rest will come later and will have to be thought about tomorrow.

It would be strange to expect that Washington would want to spare China’s ego. Beijing, as we know, is already pursuing an anti-American policy in the Ukraine crisis and supports Russia on all international platforms. If we look at the evolution of China’s position in the United Nations, we will see that in recent months it has gone from neutrality to unequivocal condemnation of the West as the main source of the crisis in Europe and most of humanity’s problems in general. Which, by the way, is pure truth, because the West indeed has the greatest influence on the state of affairs in the world and therefore bears the greatest responsibility for any problems.

It is naive to expect that the US still hopes to win over the Chinese to its side; the struggle between these powers is based on an objective contradiction in strategic development priorities. The US wants to preserve the possibility of a parasitic existence on a global scale, while China needs resources to avoid internal stagnation and a subsequent social explosion.

Chinese society is inexorably growing in consumption, which means hundreds of millions of people who want a better life, and in order to do that they have to take away from the US what they used to consider theirs by right of the strong. In science, this is called the emergence of a revolutionary situation. China’s patience and the United States’ pressure are bringing the game closer to an endgame. Moreover, Pelosi’s successful “provocation” makes it more likely that Taiwan will rejoin the PRC in the most dramatic way for its people. Local nationalists have now been given a strong boost of confidence – the head of the US Congress is accepted there as a hero and a symbol of Washington’s unconditional support. Therefore, we cannot rule out that within the next few months China will either have to find a way to give up the idea of a unified state forever, or indeed decide on a military operation with very risky consequences for the whole world. Many observers believe that this could already happen in the coming autumn.

For Russia, what has happened means that China’s support for its just demands regarding the Taiwan issue and more generally the US presence in regional affairs in Asia must be further strengthened.

Firstly, simply because it is Beijing itself that has been helping us as much as it can in recent months, and we cannot be ungrateful. All the more so now the Chinese seem to have seriously lost confidence that they can negotiate anything with Washington and receive respect in exchange for common sense in their own terms.

Secondly, the degree of “frozenness” of the US is already becoming dangerous for the whole world. There is absolutely no way to stop them by exhorting them to accept the fate of a retreating hegemon. The qualitative deterioration of the US-China relations after August 2, 2022 may put the issue of formal Sino-Russian alliance into practical perspective. The goal of rapprochement between China and Russia is no longer only to build a more just world order, but also to preserve it even in its most minimal form.

Decades ago, Henry Kissinger wrote in his seminal work on international politics: “When the goal of states is peace as such, the fate of that peace is left to the most aggressive member of the community. Right now, the United States is such a destroyer of the world and it is up to the determination of the others to follow a path that ends in any case with universal conflict.

Russia has made its move and shown that it is ready to fight the entire collective West, despite the material losses. China, in all likelihood, still has some way to go in realising that there are many things in the world that are dearer than peace.

Timofei Bordachev, VZGLYAD

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