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Jun 26, 2021
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Divide and rule?

The European Biden meetings and the Putin-Biden talks have once again shown the West’s unwillingness to reckon with the reality of a multipolar world. It confirmed that the West intends to restore its hegemony in world affairs by imposing an order based on Western rules on the world. The obstacle to this course is the strengthening of China and the strengthening of Russian-Chinese interaction. The goals of Biden’s European tour were focused, firstly, on uniting the European allies of the United States around a comprehensive strategy of competing the conditional West with China, and secondly, on easing tensions in relations with Russia with the expectation that this would help Washington create the prerequisites for alienating the Russian Federation from the PRC. On the eve of the Geneva meeting, a high-ranking official of the Biden administration in an interview with POLITICO reasoned as follows: “Either you involve Russia and China in deterrence at the same time, or you are trying to separate approaches and improve relations with Moscow.” The basis of the strategy of confrontation with the PRC is the containment of China’s economic growth, in which the conditional West sees the source of its geopolitical power. Notable here is the agreement of the G7 leaders to coordinate efforts to ensure “supply chain resilience” to “support each other’s democracies.” This implies the exclusion of China from the world supply chains of components for the world market of high-tech products, and primarily for microelectronics. Notable is the G7’s Build back better initiative as an alternative to the Chinese Belt and Road infrastructure project. It is assumed that this initiative will attract hundreds of billions of dollars for infrastructure projects in order to neutralize the influence of the PRC in the developing countries of Asia and Africa. Criticism of the PRC on the topic of “human rights in Xinjiang”, “forced labor in agriculture and light industry, as well as in solar energy” in the final communique of the G7, besides the goal of rallying the United States and its allies, had economic implications. Since the end of 2020, the United States has launched a campaign to boycott the Chinese cotton and polysilicon (required for solar panels) producers that dominate global markets. In the context of the climate agenda lobbied by Biden and the growing demand for solar panels, when Western TNCs count millions of dollars in lost profits, this aspect of the “fight for human rights” in China looks especially piquant. The reference to the PRC as a source of NATO security challenges in the final communique of the meeting of the leaders of the alliance was relatively new. The document calls on NATO members to respond to China’s challenges “together as an alliance.” Until now, China has appeared in Western documents only as an economic competitor. During Biden’s European tour, sources “familiar with internal Pentagon discussions” revealed that the US Department of Defense is considering setting up a permanent naval task force in the Pacific “to counter China’s growing military power.” At the same time, the US allies, having joined the all-encompassing strategy of containing the PRC in almost all directions, opposed the radical anti-Chinese formulations. When discussing the final G7 communiqué, some of the US European allies, primarily Germany, Italy, and the EU leadership opposed China’s categorical accusations on the topic of “forced labor” and “genocide” in Xinjiang. Not everyone in Europe agrees to recognize China as an “existential threat.” The common position of the West, reflected in the documents, masks the differences between the United States and Europe on the Chinese issue. However, the depth of the differences between the United States and its European allies should not be overestimated. Two years ago, at similar meetings of Western leaders, China was not discussed in the context of a military threat to the Western world and was not mentioned as the main geopolitical competitor. Now there is a gradual convergence of the positions of the United States and Europe on the issues of confronting China. In China, the results of Biden’s European tour were critically assessed, differing the positions of the United States and the European Union. Chinese experts draw attention to the fact that large European countries avoid the spread of political conflicts and ideological disputes with China to trade and the economy. In Europe, the benefits of most US allies from cooperation with China are believed to outweigh their “strategic concerns about China’s growth.” Therefore, US attempts to impose on the Europeans an interest in American hegemony as a collective interest of the West and to drag Europe into a geopolitical confrontation with the PRC are hardly feasible. Chinese experts agree that along with strengthening its defense capability, China must show the complete absence of even the slightest threat to Europe on its part, “make Europe, which is strengthening its strategic autonomy, realize the importance of China as a partner.” Attempts by the United States to embroil Russia and China in the PRC are closely monitored, but do not cause concern. Friendly relations between the two countries are based on the coincidence of their main interests. China values ​​the reliability of Russia as a strategic partner, citing the official position set forth by the Russian president: it is impossible to undermine trusting Russian-Chinese relations. As the Chinese experts emphasize, these relations have an independent value, outside the context of confrontation or friendship between Russia and the United States, and American calculations are futile here. Biden’s clumsy attempts at a press conference to shift responsibility for the harm done to Russia onto the shoulders of the PRC against the backdrop of numerous systematic US sanctions against Russia and an unbridled anti-Russian information campaign caused just outrage in China. The Chinese draw attention to Biden’s insulting attitude towards Russia: the US president apparently believes that pointing out the strengthening of China and the length of the Russian-Chinese border can block the facts of American hostility and make Moscow forget about friendly relations with the PRC. The United States has nothing to offer Russia that could fundamentally straighten US-Russian relations. For relations to be straightened, Washington needs to end Russia’s “shrinking of strategic space,” which is constrained to the limit by NATO’s repeated eastward expansion and control of some former Soviet republics. It is clear that Washington will not agree to this.

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