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Rostislav Ishchenko: A view on China

Rostislav Ishchenko is a popular and respected columnist in Russia.  This article has been machine translated from https://cont.ws/@ishchenko

It represents a Russian view of China, that departs from the professional and formal view of the Russian State.   It also departs strongly from the information and views that we receive from the Valdai club.  I find this Russian view very interesting and we had it expressed in one of SmoothieX12’s articles just recently.  He proposes that China is militarily not strong enough to fight against even the US.  This view departs again strongly from what I know of the Chinese military.  I’ll make some comments as the article continues.

The Chinese World against the Russian War – Russia Today News Agency columnist

A year after the outbreak of hostilities in Ukraine, China suddenly decided to engage in peacekeeping. I don’t think China can do it. It is too unprofitable for the United States for Ukraine to agree to a world that suits Russia and unties Moscow’s hands in the Far East.

And Zelensky and his company, relying on their Nazis, are unlikely to be able to convince them of the need to surrender the territories for which they fought so hard, losing hundreds of thousands of “twin cities”.But still, China has made an attempt and, despite the initial rude refusal of Washington and Kiev from the Beijing “mission of good offices”, is trying to push its initiative.The Chinese don’t just think realistically. Unlike Europeans, Americans, and Russians, the Chinese do not use the logic of facts, but the logic of trends. They see that the Ukrainian potential is being exhausted, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to hold the front of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The Russian offensive is gradually accelerating, covering all new sectors of the front. The crisis occurs not only in the region of Bakhmut. A much more dangerous crisis, threatening the collapse of the entire front, is developing in the area of Avdiivka. The announced Ukrainian counteroffensive is becoming less likely, and the catastrophe of the Eastern Front, which will wipe out Ukraine and deal a severe blow to the authority of the United States and the collective West, is inevitably approaching. From Beijing’s point of view, the United States, in order to prevent this catastrophe, preserve at least part of Ukraine and the possibility of confrontation with Russia in the future, should become more compliant and make a compromise peace on the principle: who holds what, owns it.

Comment:  Yes, we all know that Ukraine as a state must disappear, or be brought into conformity as an independent, denazified and demilitarized, in order to give Russia breathing room on her borders.  We also know that the war/smo has greater importance, and the Ukraine war has to reset the security balance in the Euro area.  But to say the Chinese are unrealistic is not supported by Chinese language – or perhaps I read that wrong.  China is clearly realistic if you understand them and they clearly understand the issues in the post soviet space.   

I think and will propose a theory that these Russian thoughts are much influenced by the previous SinoSoviet Split.  I also propose that these thoughts from Russians are emotional.  They dearly want to be the ones in the world that have the greatest military with the greatest weapons out there in the world.  I fully grant them that, because they are, if we look at the current situation only, reliable in word and deed.  The third issue here is that the local, Russia-focused analysis is just that, only Russia-focused.  In reality, the real hard knowledge about China and its state of development has shortcomings and at least this writer does not have good schooling in multi-polarity.      

The most difficult thing in this whole story is to achieve a mutually acceptable solution to the issue of territories that have already become part of Russia, but are controlled by the Ukrainian army (Zaporozhye and part of the region, Kherson and part of the region, as well as part of the Donetsk region). From the point of view of the Chinese, who assess trends, this is not a problem, since the final defeat of the West and Ukraine is a foregone conclusion. Therefore, the territories will still be part of Russia. Therefore, in Beijing’s logic, the West and Ukraine may not persist and give them up immediately, but Moscow can also wait a few years.

From the point of view of the Russian-American-European political reality, this is the most fundamental issue, and it will not only lose a significant part of its international authority, but also undermine its position within its own country.

What is Beijing trying to achieve if its peacekeeping mission is successful?

The first, most obvious and main goal is to free Russia from the conflict in the West, in order to untie its hands in the East. It is clear that the army on the western border will still have to be kept on alert, but, for example, the Marines of the Pacific Fleet can clearly be sent to the main place of service. Yes, and the mobilized will have to be dismissed to their homes. Moreover, Russia will clearly insist on a demilitarized zone along its borders, 300-500 kilometers deep, which should be the main guarantee of security.

Beijing is sincere in this matter. Not really understanding the Western way of thinking and the Western rules of the political game, the Chinese really think that their peace proposals may be acceptable to everyone, as a temporary compromise. On the one hand, no restrictions will be imposed on the NATO infrastructure in Eastern Europe, except (possibly) In the Baltic States, on the other hand, Russia will receive a demilitarized “security zone” along its borders. China, on the eve of the inevitable Taiwan crisis, will untie its ally’s hands to pursue a more active policy in the Far East.

Secondly, China, like any other state, pursues its own selfish interests in any union other than the common ones. But, unlike, say, Russians, who have only one step from love to hate, and the attitude to the next “bratushki” is determined by the latest, positive or negative for Russia, action of the “fraternal” government, the Chinese usually look as far ahead as possible.

Comment:  Of course Beijing is sincere.  They have the exact same problems with the west as what Russia has, and now they have to work against a NATO takeover of their area of influence.  So to say they don’t understand the western way of thinking, is somewhat insulting.  They’ve worked on understanding the western way of thinking for many years now and it is their calling card – to understand all sides of the story but also to bring their own, unique experience to the table.  We also have to understand that China, in a timeline type of analysis, has just, during this last Two Sessions, started speaking out on their own unique experience.  China feels that it is now ready to step into a more active role in the world.   

The defeat of the West in general and the United States in particular in the current conflict is not preventable, the discussion may be about the timing of the collapse of the West, but not about its fundamental inevitability. Without a strong enemy, such as the West, the Russian-Chinese alliance will inevitably face the question of who will lead and who will lead in tandem with Moscow and Beijing. The course and results of the Ukrainian and Taiwanese crises, as well as the implemented and unrealized peacekeeping initiatives of the parties, will play an important role in this.

There is no doubt that China will not accept a compromise peace under any pretext until it has established full control over Taiwan. At the same time, Beijing understands that it will be difficult for Russia to establish full control over Ukraine (in addition to purely technical problems with restoring the destroyed economy and re-educating the disloyal population, there is also the danger of the Ukrainian crisis escalating into a European war).

Nevertheless, if Russia takes the risk and achieves a complete military victory over Ukraine, only then starting stabilization negotiations with the West, then it will be Moscow that will have the laurels of the first winner of the United States and NATO in a modern hybrid war. Any scale of a Taiwanese victory will be blurred by the preceding event. In addition, the Taiwan crisis may start earlier than the Ukrainian one ends. In the current configuration, this will mean that the United States ‘ allies in the Asia-Pacific region (Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia, and New Zealand) will come up against a lone China, which will provide Taiwan with the same support with weapons and finances as Europe provided to Ukraine. America will continue to stand behind its allies and control the process.

However, bearing in mind the overall two-to three-fold superiority of the allied fleets over the Chinese and the five-to ten-fold superiority of the United States in nuclear weapons (depending on how many undeclared nuclear warheads China has managed to put into service in the last five years), as well as the absolute number of delivery vehicles, the United States and its allies can go clash of naval forces. For example, the blockade of Taiwan after the Chinese expeditionary forces land on the island, which will put the latter in a critical position.

Comment:  This is simple.  China will not land anything like sizable expeditionary forces on Taiwan.  They don’t need to.  Taiwan from the Chinese side is a recalcitrant province and is not their enemy.  The numbers of recalcitrant leaders in Taiwan is reducing.  Taiwan had a full compliment of representatives at the recent Chinese Two Sessions.  The enemy of China today is the Aukus alliance and the creeping NATO influence peddling.  China simply allows the west to expend its energy on Taiwan and the west thinks that they have China by the ears.  China will most probably deal with Taiwan in a similar manner as how they dealt with Hong Kong.  There were no expeditionary forces there.   In terms of ‘superiority’ numbers quoted, let me say it straight.  China is keeping its force strength under its hat.  They are the only country in the world today with a military force of one million active and weapons for all one million.  They actively buy and Beijing is surrounded by advanced S400’s.  This has probably been updated by now but I can’t give proof for this.  China does not need to declare number of nuclear warheads, as there are no treaties left in the world and China is not a signatory to anything that says they have to declare.  We then also have to count warheads from the DPRK.   https://www.airandspaceforces.com/stratcom-china-more-icbm-launchers-than-us-not-more-missiles-warheads/      

Russia, bound by the continuation of the Ukrainian crisis and threatened by a European war, is unlikely to be considered by the United States as an active player in the Asia-Pacific region. But Russia, which has just made peace in the West, will prove to be quite a strong argument in favor of American caution.

The Russian Pacific Fleet is not the largest and most powerful in the region, but it is armed with nuclear weapons, and Russia, in terms of the number of warheads, is comparable to the entire West. Therefore, a collision with Russian ships poses a much more serious threat than with Chinese ones. In fact, Beijing needs Russia looming behind its back, by the very fact of its active participation in regional politics, to block the possibility of a direct clash with Chinese troops in the battle for Taiwan for the United States and its allies.

China needs a non-belligerent Russia. Its untapped potential will be more of a deterrent to the United States than direct military involvement. So, in the historic battle of Sekigahara, which ended the unification of Japan under the rule of Tokugawa Ieyasu, Tokugawa did not dare to order a decisive attack until the position of Kobayakawa Hideaki was determined, who promised to go over to the Tokugawa side during the battle, but hesitated. Tokugawa even ordered Kobayakawa’s troops to open fire in order to get certainty out of him, preferring clarity (even if it proved to be disadvantageous to him).

Russia, which did not completely crush Ukraine, and also made peace with Chinese mediation and passively ensured China’s victory in the Taiwan crisis, will automatically be perceived in the world as a junior partner of Beijing, which will turn out to be the main winner of the West. Meanwhile, in international relations, how you are perceived is more important than what you really are. We can see this now from America’s position. What remains of its geopolitical weight is based on the fact that the collective West and much of the Third World still see the United States as a leader. Only because of this is Washington still able to mobilize numerous international coalitions against its enemies and, in its best traditions, drag chestnuts out of the fire with someone else’s hands.

If the world recognizes China as the sole leader after the defeat of the United States, then it will be quite difficult to challenge this recognition. All talk of a multipolar world will be forgotten at the moment when any one country will have the opportunity to independently implement leadership functions.

Comment:  Oh boy, this is pure projection and confirms my thinking that not even the local Russians understand multipolarity.   China would like to lead in being an economic engine.  

I think it is no coincidence that China’s peace initiatives were born at a time when Xi Jinping secured re-election to a third term, while Putin has yet to decide whether he will be re-elected in 2024 or nominate a successor. It is no coincidence that this initiative was actively supported by Lukashenka. After 2020, Belarus became completely dependent on Russia. The possibility of playing multi-vector is over. If Russia achieves a crushing military victory in Ukraine and eliminates the local Nazi statehood, then Belarus ‘ dependence will become irreversible. The Chinese plan, which assumes the rise of Beijing, allows us to hope for the emergence of an additional center of power that balances Russia, Minsk’s flirtation with which cannot be declared treacherous – after all, China is a strategic partner of the Russian Federation.

Russia, which has repeatedly declared its commitment to a peaceful solution to the Ukrainian problem, certainly finds it difficult to refuse Chinese mediation. But this is not necessary. As already mentioned, Beijing clearly overestimates the readiness of the United States and Zelensky’s ability to reach a compromise agreement that fixes Ukraine’s rejection of Crimea, Sevastopol, Donbass, Zaporozhye and Kherson, provides a demilitarized zone along the Russian border, guarantees Russian rights in the rest of Ukraine and the abolition of Nazi laws – in general, everything without which it cannot agree to peace. mir russian leadership.

It follows that, with a high degree of probability, the West and Ukraine will eventually refuse to negotiate. If, however, the United States still wants to play with the peace process, then starting negotiations and reaching an agreement are not the same thing at all. You can argue about the terms of peace forever. But it should be borne in mind that in this case, China for some time will objectively receive the status of a power over the fight, a mediator not between Russia and Ukraine, but between Russia and the United States-an arbitrator of superpowers. And he will try to use this temporary advantage to the full, to make it permanent.

All of the above does not mean that Beijing is plotting against Russia. Simply, as I said, in addition to common interests, each state has its own, which it tries to implement without violating the harmony of interaction. The art of politics lies in the ability to use circumstances not to the detriment of others, but to the benefit of oneself. This is what Beijing is currently doing.

Comment:  Beijing clearly overestimates the readiness of the west to reach a compromise agreement?  Well, in the deep reading that I do daily on China, she is not interested in compromise agreements.  She is interested in resetting the balance of power, because that would be in her direct interest and directly in the interest of Russia as well.  Also in the interest of Europe, but currently they seem not to understand that.  The slow development here that intimates that China wants to free the hands of Russia so that Russia could help China, is in my view contrary to the Russia-China partnership.  It is not China vs Russia any longer, it is China and Russia, and this is what the commitment of both parties to multipolarity means.  We are outside of the conceptual old thinking of this one vs that one.  The Chinese thinking is that the sun must shine over all of the worlds amd they have said hundreds of times that they are not interested in any hegemonic role.  All of these prejudgements to peace negotiations are just that, prejudgements and really, shows fear and emotional knee-jerking that Russia itself will not be able to stand for a peace agreement as Russia wants it.  China is fully aware of what Russia wants and fully aware of the reasons for that.        

My thinking is that China is very deliberately putting forward a format to reach peace.  Whoever does not respond, will ‘violate the harmony of interaction’ for many years into the future.  The documentation for the visit of Xi Jinping has been negotiated over the past number of months.  Leaders do not visit to negotiate, they visit to confirm negotiation eyeball to eyeball.

Having said what I said, I don’t believe China is the only one in our world today that can mediate peace.  But on the other hand, I cannot think of anyone that actually can stand in for the supremely intelligent and educated Russian diplomats, and the marvelous development of the Chinese diplomatic ability over the past number of years.  I also am not aware that Russia has spoken up on who they would want as mediators or even only fellows in such a peace process.   The Chinese document is similar to the Minsk package of measures but states more of the values of a peace process.  It is simply a format and does not dictate anything.  Given the very recent Chinese work on rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran, China deserves to have her voice heard.  And it is up to Russia to accept or not.  I declared the Chinese peace plan dead on arrival, not from a Russian perspective but from the perspective that the west is not inclined to peace.  I think China understands fully that the west will then be a subject of war not only in the Ukraine theater but also in the eastern theater.  Nobody is under any illusions here.

Knowing that peace is made over a negotiating table, whether the other side is shot to hell or not, China’s format is the best that we have.  With the visit of Xi Jinping to Russia, we may see that specific format shaved and cleaned up, so that it actually may be acceptable.  I hope for that, even though I know that there is no peace plan that the west did not destroy in the recent past! 

There is nobody to make peace with.

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Grieved
Grieved
14 days ago

Yes, a strange piece from Ishchenko. He seems unable to grasp the concept of win-win that China has illustrated so well in recent years. Neither Russia nor China need, or even desire, to dominate the world. What they need is a world at peace, and in trade and communication. They… Read more »

David from Oz
David from Oz
14 days ago
Reply to  Grieved

I affirmatively agree with your assessments ‘Grieved’. Thank you Amarynth for pointing out the nuances of your thoughts on this article. Here in my country the anti Chinese retoric is astounding. Part of this retoric is that the Chinese are buying all our land and own many of our corporations.… Read more »

AHH
AHH
14 days ago

I really disagree with the Ukrainian Ishchenko’s ravings on China. He’s out of his depth on China issues imho, as with war in the last year. He sees Chinese subterfuge and play for Hegemony that is evident to only the paranoid and ill-informed.. in fact I queried his bizarre position on… Read more »

Larchmonter445
Larchmonter445
14 days ago

I have grown lazy of late so I’ll copy and paste from Martyanov’s thread that I just posted. I also don’t feel up to bickering with others. I’ll let my comment focus on my view of China. We all may have to make adjustments after President Xi and President Putin… Read more »

ZZD
ZZD
14 days ago

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xEm4cX6B3gk
Timeline 43:28 on Chinese “peace” proposal and China Russia relationship

Another view.

QC?
QC?
14 days ago

I am NOT here! 😀 😀 😀 …. no you didnt see me! 😀 😀 😀 oh… so much ‘splatter’ I can throw at the fan… but nooooooooo! sorry! … too close … only few hours to go SO? we wait… as Larch said 🙂 let’s pray for ‘god promised… Read more »

emersonreturn
emersonreturn
14 days ago

russia & china coordinate with such subtlety, distilled to an elegant equation, it’s all but impossible to decipher. we are left reading tea leaves in a vain attempt to predict what’s at play. mother & china have gamed this for a very long time. it hasn’t been jumbled together in… Read more »

QC?
QC?
14 days ago
Reply to  emersonreturn

emersonreturn mate 🙂 A gentle question for you 🙂 Q: since your birth (or earliest memory), is there one day that is NOT, wake up, read tea leaves, dont understand, make something up that kinda sound reasoning, sun down, go back to sleep? Peace friends 🙂 seriously I dunno what… Read more »

Last edited 14 days ago by QC?
AHH
AHH
13 days ago
Reply to  QC?

Putin was in Crimea yesterday. Today, in Mariupol, Donbass at the front then met with Gen Armageddon & Co. in the Rostov-on-Don claimed by the geographically-talented Leasst Trusst to Lavrov’s face. Tomorrow XJP arrives in Moscow. Does this strike you as someone about to sell out the gains of the SMO or who will concede… Read more »

QC?
QC?
13 days ago
Reply to  AHH

Just for you AHH mate 🙂 TRASH TALK ONLY! back in the ‘other’ site when maidan happened… I said smth like VVP is gonna clean out the trash … and then declare the zone as DMZ … and invite chi-com to setup china shops there now, as the smo happened… Read more »

emersonreturn
emersonreturn
13 days ago
Reply to  QC?

wise words, qc, thank you. love & light.

emersonreturn
emersonreturn
13 days ago
Reply to  emersonreturn

it was too late to finish last night. this morning, i shall add the following: my read of the tea leaves: russia & china knew empire would need to take them both on. empire’s misguided game theory was a little like the lenard cohen, song, first we take manhattan then… Read more »