Why China would agree to be peacemaker over Ukraine (and why it will not) – Corriere.it

Of Luca Angelini

Effective mediation would increase Beijing’s “soft power” around the world. But Xi must protect Putin, because a failure of the Russian autocrat would have negative consequences for every autocrat. Even for him

But, in short, why does China continue to be reluctant (euphemism) to put all its weight on the diplomatic table, to force Vladimir Putin to stop the slaughter in Ukraine? The Chinese are said to be more inclined to venality than morality. But, also from the point of view of convenience, the benefits of wearing the peacemaker’s shoes would seem enormous to Xi Jinping
. The first is an image: helping to stop weapons in Ukraine would make us forget, at least for a while, the nibbles imposed by force in Hong Kong, the brutal repression of Uyghurs and various previous persecutions. And, also to do business and gain customers, the soft powerthe ability to win hearts and minds matters.

The “decoupling” with the US

Second, China is by far the country that has gained the most from globalization, from the fall of the Wall and the end of the division into blocks. Why, then, risk Putin’s adventurism accelerating the decouplingthe Economic, technological and political “decoupling” between the liberal West and the rest of the world and the consequent end of globalization as we have known it, about which, among others, Ernesto Galli della Loggia wrote? The impression, reading and listening to Federico Rampini’s reflections (here a video intervention of his) and a comment, in the Telegraph, by Steve Tsang, director of the China Institute at the School of Oriental and African Studies (Soas) in London, is that Beijing assumes that this decoupling will inevitably come and is already preparing itself (something that we should perhaps start doing too, as Danilo Taino suggested in the Corriere and that in the United States we are starting to do, at least at the level of eventualities to be taken into consideration: always Taino, here).

Russian collapse, Chinese nightmare

It may seem self-defeating that Xi continues to proclaim his friendship and “rock solid” support for Putin. But, writes Tsang, «Xi is committed to making China great again, but he also has an even stronger goal. Is that of make China a safe place for the Communist Party and, in particular, for its “central leader” – himself. To do this, China must also making the world a safe place for authoritarianism and for Xi’s strongman companion, Putin“. Stated even better, “the Chinese government can see that the war in Ukraine is not serving China’s best interests, nor is it protecting its significant interests in Ukraine. But allowing Putin to fail would weaken his hold on power in Russia. This is the worst nightmare scenario for Xi, more than the war in Ukraine which is turning into a wider conflict ». Beyond the “elective affinities” between autocrats in search of revenge (we talked about them in the Review of March 3), if the world is divided in two, democracies against autocracies (or democracies), to have the largest nation on one’s side. world – moreover economically vassal of Beijing, as it will find itself due to the sanctions and the desirable energy turnaround of the European Union – will come in handy.

Reflections on the Taiwan issue

It makes sense to think that, if it will be very difficult for the West to “decouple” from China, it will be no less difficult for China to find markets as rich as Western ones for its products. Xi, however, also has another concern: “If he allowed Putin to fall and lose power, would this give his internal enemies in China or the Communist Party any ideas? Also allow Putin to be humiliated by the US or a US-led Western alliance it would weaken its position in the Communist Party and in China“. Not to mention that a Russian disaster in Ukraine could raise doubts about the advisability of military intervention in Taiwan (and perhaps he has already done so, as Guido Santevecchi wrote). For Tsang, therefore, “it is better not to be under any illusions that China will offer real help to put an end to the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe in Ukraine”. Whether it is enough to save the Kremlin’s “best friend” is to be seen.

This article appeared for the first time in the Corriere press review, reserved for subscribers. You can read it here.

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This article appeared for the first time in the Corriere press review, reserved for subscribers. You can read it here.

Those who are not yet subscribers can find here the ways to do so, and have access to all the contents of the site, all the newsletters and podcasts, and the historical archive of the newspaper.

March 11, 2022 (change March 11, 2022 | 17:45)

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About Alex Marcell

He likes dogs, pizza and popcorn. Already a fanboy of Nintendo and Sony, but today throws anything. He has collaborated on sites and magazines such as GameBlast, Nintendo World, Hero and Portal Pop, but today is dedicated exclusively to Spark Chronicles.

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