Staunton, July 12 – Many Western analysts and some Western government officials have expressed concern that by supporting Ukraine, their countries are pushing Russia into a close alliance with China. But that has not happened, Vladislav Inozemtsev says. Instead, Beijing’s reaction highlights “the complete bankruptcy” of that alliance and those expectations.
Despite the break between Russia and the West, the Russian analyst say, China has not come to its aid, “preferring instead to conduct business as usual” rather than providing any military, economic or technological assistance to its supposed partner and ally (theins.ru/opinions/inozemtsev/253041).
China has provided some rhetorical support to Russia, but its words have been less than fulsome and they have not reflected any serious change in Beijing’s actions. And that means, as Farid Zakaria says, that “achieving victory over Russia appears to be the best strategy for the West with regard to its relations with China.”
Since the start of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, Russia has increased its dependence on China but China did not respond in anything like a mutual way. Indeed, Inozemtsev says, what is surprising or even “shocking” given what Moscow and Beijing had said earlier is that it conspicuously failed to do so.
Moscow has increased its yuan holdings, China has bought more oil and gas but at cut rate prices, and China has sold more high tech items to Russia to fill in for the withdrawal of Western supplies. But “China has not supported Putin’s “special operation,” not recognized the “sovereignty of the LDNR and consistently called for stopping the war and starting talks.”
Moreover, the Russian economist says. Chinese banks have refused to finance deals with Russian oil companies, supply Russia with spare parts for Airbus planes, and offer Russians payment cards on its system. Instead, it has cutback investments in Russia, shifted its trade route preferences away from it, and told Moscow it can’t land leased planes on Chinese territory.
According to Inozemtsev, “this Chinese policy is based on the dominance among Chinese elites of an assessment of the Russian war in Ukraine as a strategic mistake” and the belief of many in Beijing that Russia ultimately is going to lose in that conflict while the West is going to be strengthened at least for a time.
Beijing is also undoubtedly pleased that NATO has now declared Russia and not China the main current threat to the international system, a decision to gives China the chance to reap certain benefits as long as it doesn’t cozy up too closely to Russia. That is what it has not done and shows no sign of doing.
Expectations to the contrary in the past or even now are thus clearly misplaced, Inozemtsev says.