Tuesday, July 13, 2021

China No Longer Willing to Play Second Fiddle to Russia, Znotins Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 8 – Vladimir Putin is incapable of recognizing that China is not prepared to play second fiddle to Russia in any cooperation between the two countries, Zintis Znotins says; and he like many others has convinced himself otherwise because China unlike Russia doesn’t behave rashly but pursues a long game.

            As a result, the Latvian commentator says, Putin was incapable of assimilating US President Joe Biden’s warning in Geneva that China is no permanent friend to Russia but a temporary ally who will turn on Moscow when it decides the moment is right for it to do so (chechenews.com/союзник-путина-страна-которая-не-хо/).

            This failure on the part of the Kremlin leader is likely to have ever more serious consequences. Indeed, if Putin knew the history of the USSR better, “he would remember that the Chinese military-industrial complex was based on the Soviet one but the Chinese secretly copied and then improved everything. As a result, China surpassed Russia” and is now ahead.

            Because of sanctions, Russia has been unable to modernize its military, while China has been able to purchase everything it needs to do so. As a result, “China exceeds Russia in the development and sale of arms, and we already can speak about the dependence of the military industrial complex of Russia on China and not the reverse.”

            This means, the Latvian commentator says, that “China is slowly and steadily digging its claws into crumbling Russia [and that] while Russia is brazenly trying to expand its sphere of influence … China is acting quietly” and diplomatically, practicing the long game and not even talking about its ultimate goals.

            An example of this is the fact that Chinese officials seldom talk about the fact that much of Siberia and the Russian Far East was once part of China and that Beijing clearly has its eye on recovering them. It is already sending people and investment into the region in numbers and amounts exceeding what Moscow is doing.

            “Therefore,” Znotins says, “the gradual return of these regions to Chinese control is only a question of time.” And China may take control of these and other regions not by extending its borders but by expanding its influence, something far harder for Moscow and others to resist and far more profitable for China.

            Ironically, the commentator continues, “at present, Russia considers China its chief ally in the struggle with the West. China and the US really have disagreements on many questions, but we should not forget the saying that the enemy of my enemy is my friend” or the fact that China will cooperate with Russia only as far as its interests lead it to.

            “Both Russia and China are trying to become the most influential country in the world, but there is only one first place.” Thus conflict is inevitable and it is already clear who has the advantage. Biden has warned Putin about this; and if Putin doesn’t take that in, then “his days are numbered” – and not just his but those of the country he heads.

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