The results of the diplomatic confrontation between the US and China over the visit to Taiwan of the Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi prove that there are still only two superpowers in the world. Exactly so, since the indicator of this status is not the amount of material resources or the physical scale of the state, but the ability to put all this at stake for the sake of one’s interests, values and principles.
China preferred a peaceful resolution of the conflict caused by the “Pelosi provocation”, although it itself created grounds for some observers to expect a more dramatic development of events. This shows that Beijing, despite all its might, is not yet morally ready to sacrifice peace in the name of maintaining a fair attitude towards itself. Taking into account the fact that the Celestial Empire is the most important ally of Russia in the conditions of our military-diplomatic conflict with the West, what happened must be considered with all seriousness and taking into account the likely consequences.
Despite the fact that China has been pushing the US positions around the world for quite a long time, the Chinese state is confident that the material interdependence between these powers allows even the most complex issues to be resolved on the basis of agreements.
Beijing believes that the United States should respect Chinese interests simply based on the place China occupies in the world economy and politics. The strategy of Beijing’s negotiations with Washington is based on this approach. But we see that America is far from thinking that China deserves respect without actually proving that it is capable of hitting back. They live according to the most conservative and, unfortunately, the true rules of human society.
As sad as it is to admit, the main measure of the strength of states in world affairs has always been and remains their “frostbite”, that is, the ability to go to the end in certain situations. And if there is no such confidence, then it is better not to resort to senseless threats. “If you want to shoot, shoot, don’t talk,” said Tuco Ramirez from the legendary western “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly” in a similar situation. On March 24, 1999, Russian President Boris Yeltsin called on the international community to stop the United States from bombing Yugoslavia. But the head of the Russian state then did not threaten the Americans precisely because he understood the physical impossibility of realizing such threats.
Then Russia did not have the strength to shoot, just as China does not have them now in order to stop the United States in the process of carrying out its provocations against basic Chinese interests and values. The Chinese economy is integrated into the global market, where the West has a leading position, much more than Russia. The population of China is almost one and a half billion, and there are very few natural resources of its own. The Chinese army has not fought since 1979, when Deng Xiaoping undertook an “educational” expedition against the Vietnamese neighbors. A military response to the US provocation would mean the risk of a full-scale war, where the Americans still have the advantage at sea and in the air. Therefore, the PRC finds itself in the trap of its own growing importance and, at the same time, its unwillingness to stand up for itself, regardless of any potential risks. And the United States very skillfully uses this, since the creation of threatening situations is the basis of their international policy.
The Western culture of social interaction is generally built on conflict, and the Anglo-Saxon culture is even more so. Regardless of the consequences of what happened for relations between the US and China, the Americans won this small round of struggle. And the rest will come later and will have to think about it tomorrow.
It would be strange to expect that Washington would want to preserve Chinese pride. Beijing, as you know, is already pursuing an anti-American policy in the Ukrainian crisis and supports Russia on all international platforms. If we look at the evolution of China’s position in the UN, 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, in general, most of the problems of mankind. Which, by the way, is true, because the West really has the most influence on the state of affairs in the world and therefore bears the greatest responsibility for any problems.
It would be naive to expect that the United States still hopes to win over the Chinese to its side – the struggle between these powers is based on an objective contradiction of strategic development priorities. The United States wants to preserve the possibility of a parasitic existence on a global scale, while China needs resources in order to avoid internal stagnation and the subsequent social explosion.
Consumption is inexorably growing in Chinese society, and these are hundreds of millions of people who want to live better, and for this they have to take away from the United States what they used to consider their rightfully strong. In science, this is called the emergence of a revolutionary situation. The patience of China and the pressure of the United States bring the endgame closer to this game. Moreover, the successful “Pelosi provocation” makes it more likely that Taiwan will return to the PRC in the most dramatic way for its population. Now local nationalists have received a strong charge of confidence – the head of the US Congress is received there as a hero and a symbol of unconditional support from Washington. Therefore, we cannot rule out that in the coming months, China will either have to look for a way to say goodbye to the idea of a single state forever, or actually decide on a military operation with very risky consequences for the whole world. Many observers believe that this could happen already in the coming autumn.
For Russia, what happened means that it is necessary to further strengthen support for China in its just demands regarding the Taiwan problem and, in general, the presence of the United States in the regional affairs of Asia.
Firstly, simply because it is Beijing itself that has been helping us, as best it can, in recent months, and one cannot be ungrateful. Moreover, now the Chinese, apparently, will seriously lose confidence that they can negotiate something with Washington and receive respect in exchange for common sense in their own understanding.
Secondly, the degree of “frostbite” in the United States is already becoming dangerous for the whole world. It will definitely not work to stop them by exhortations and calls to accept the fate of the retreating hegemon. Therefore, the qualitative deterioration of relations between the United States and China after August 2, 2022 translates the issue of a formal Sino-Russian alliance into a practical plane. The goal of rapprochement between China and Russia is no longer only building a more just world order, but also maintaining it, even in its most minimal form.
Decades ago, Henry Kissinger wrote in his seminal work on international politics, “When peace as such becomes the goal of states, the fate of that world is left to the most aggressive member of the community.” Now the United States is such a destroyer of the world, and it depends on the determination of the rest whether they will go to the end of the path, at the end of which, in any case, there will be a general conflict.
Russia has made its move and has shown that it is ready to fight the entire collective West, despite material losses. China, in all likelihood, still has some way to go to understand that there are many things in the world that are more precious than the world.