Assessment: if Xi can successfully position himself as the only world leader capable of restraining Putin, it will go a long way toward extending his hegemony all the way to Lisbon …
In addition to the crimes, the heroism, and the heavy toll in blood, the struggle for Ukraine may also come to represent one of the most strategically significant events of this century, or any other—the one that established China, not America or Russia, as the dominant power in Europe.
Most Western observers have taken Beijing’s professed readiness “to play a constructive role to facilitate dialogue for peace” as a sign that Ukraine is somewhere between a headache and a disaster for Xi Jinping, who announced a Sino-Russian partnership with “no limits” at the Beijing Olympics only last month.
“Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared.” Rev. 16:12
The assumption is that Xi is now in danger of looking complicit or credulous (or both), and that the Communist Party—having argued incessantly for the sanctity of China’s own territorial integrity—may now stand accused of hypocrisy. Xi’s support of Putin is also seen as having put Beijing at risk of igniting anti-Chinese sentiment in Europe, of squandering the many investments it made and trade relationships it built in the European Union, and of pushing otherwise friendly EU capitals closer to Washington.
Triangulation between Russia and Europe will no doubt require a degree of finesse for which China’s Wolf Warriors are ill-prepared, and providing Putin with liquidity to fund his war machine, for example, is not a cost-free decision. But anyone taking pleasure in China’s supposed bind probably has it backwards. In the wake of its partial expulsion from the global trade and financial system, Russia—with its vast supply of raw materials—is likely to become a Chinese economic dependency.
That is a good thing for China, and if Xi can successfully position himself as the only world leader capable of restraining Putin, it will go a long way toward extending his hegemony all the way to Lisbon, as China starts to displace the United States as Europe’s most important global partner.
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