Is China Brokering Peace … or Giving Putin an Out?
China and Russia recently held high-level meetings. The world’s nations were wondering if this would lead to more support for Putin’s dirty little war from the Middle Kingdom – especially military hardware and ammunition.
The answer to that question is still unknown at the time of this writing. But we have seen one result of the meeting – a peace proposal. Chinese President Xi has let it be known that he would like to play a role in negotiating “peace” in Ukraine. The United States has played that role in several conflicts in the past.
The key question is whether Xi is – or even can play the role of — an honest broker between Ukrainian President Zelenskyy and the Mad Man of Moscow. Probably not for one very good reason. He is too closely aligned with Putin. One only needs to recall their betrothal meeting just before the start of Putin’s invasion in which they agreed to a “no limits” friendship.
China has not been critical of Putin’s decision to invade — or the manner in which he has carried out his brutal attack on innocent civilians in an independent world-recognized sovereign state. Despite sanctions, Xi has provided some economic assistance to Russia. Increasing oil purchases is one of them. But not the weapons Putin has requested from his big brother on the world stage – at least not yet.
Xi has every reason to want to see the war end. It is having a negative impact on China – both economically, in terms of world commerce, and in the image, as an ally of a regime committing war crimes. Xi understands that most of the world leaders are opposed to the Russian invasion – and the brutality in which it is being carried out. Putin is putting Xi on the wrong side of the world divide.
Can Xi improve his image and increase his world leadership by serving as a peacemaker? He could if that was what he was sincerely trying to do. I do not think that is the case, however. Xi’s proposal to negotiate an end to the war is insincere. That is not what he is trying to do.
It should not be surprising that Xi’s offer comes on the heels of that high-level meeting between Beijing and Moscow. Xi would not be announcing his proposals if they were not preliminarily discussed with Russia.
It seems obvious that Xi is offering Putin an exit ramp from the position he has put himself in. He is not winning the war – and could keep losing for months to come. He is trapped in his own box.
Xi is calling for an immediate ceasefire and the start of negotiations to seek a settlement. That means Putin wins. A ceasefire means that Putin’s army would continue to occupy its current geography as discussions ensued. And that could be forever. (Consider the Korean War. It ended in a ceasefire that has been in place for 70 years. Technically, the United States and Korea are still in a state of war.)
A ceasefire in Ukraine would break the current momentum currently enjoyed by Zelenskyy. It would give Putin time to rebuild his war machine. Inevitably the ceasefire would be broken – and the Mad Man of Moscow would be on the march again.
Xi may be the most conflicted man on earth in terms of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. According to initial reports, the Chinese President thought it was a bonehead action. It had no benefits for China. It dragged China into the chaos the invasion created. It complicated Xi’s ambition to take control of Taiwan.
China would like to see the conflict end but has limited ability to make that happen without a complete break with Putin. As to the issue of sending Chinese armaments to Putin, it would be a huge mistake – and one that I am inclined to believe Xi will avoid. But I am not certain.
The decision to send arms to Putin may rest on the same calculus that Putin used to launch the invasion in the first place – a perceived weakness on the part of Biden. Biden has threatened unspecified actions against China if they ignore the sanctions, but Biden also made threats that were ignored if Putin launched the invasion. And even since the invasion, Biden’s less than full-bore response could be an encouragement to Xi.
Hopefully, Biden and the pro-Ukraine world coalition will support Zelenskyy in summarily rejecting Xi’s offer and get on with winning – really winning — the war.
So, there ‘tis.
I agree Larry. China always has economic and geo political goals attached to just about everything it does. For Xi, if the world accepts him being a mediator then Xi and China will be essentially topping the USA as the world peace maker. This will gain his regime credibility which so far it has squandered on Putin by not denouncing the war, as well as sending him non-lethal aid. The world should definitely turn him down on this one, but it will be Zelensky that decides the issue of when to negotiate. He knows he is in the driver’s seat right now, and he is wise not to let Xi behind the wheel.
One fine point of technicality, the USA is not in a state of war with “Korea”, as you write it. We (USA and Republic of Korea, ROK) are in a state of war with the Peoples Democratic Republic of Korea, a.k.a. North Korea, or DPRK.
So in a way, Xi proposing to negotiate a peaceful settlement to the war provides many benefits and two off ramps. One off ramp for Putin from Ukraine, and one off ramp for Xi and his partnership with no limits from Putin. Putin is becoming a big liability to Xi. Xi needs what I call a “Toyota strategy”. Remember how bumpy Toyotas were when they first came here in the mid 1960’s, riding in one was a real kidney bruiser was the popular criticism! So Toyota’s answer, they ran the commercial with tagline, “Feel the road, buy a Toyota” which was amazingly effective. The car was still a bumpy as hell ride, but now you were happy because you could “feel the road” which was your goal in buying a Toyota. :<)
hmmm, are you sure: Toyota’s first video ad slug was: “Get your hands on a Toyota and you’ll never let go,” 1967 though the 70’s.
“World’s Greatest Automotive Value.” was first 1959 print ad.
You may have seen a local or regional ad or maybe it’s just urban legend.
Although “you meet the nicest people on a Honda” is still taught for MBA’s. :>)
ooops, clicked too soon.
fascinating read on Toyota’s history, including ads: Georgia Southern University
Ready, Steady, Go: Toyota’s Advertising in America,
Rebecca Hope Smith
My grandparents came from Poland and Austria, escaped from the Kaiser in 1918. Brochures were given to them on how nice a life they could have if they went and worked in America. What they did not tell them was that they would be sent to work in the coal mines of Northern PA. So they settled in Ashville PA. After WWII my father married a lady from Reading PA, and settled there until he was recalled for the Korean War and then recalled again to fly for French-Indo China war. We stayed in Reading while daddy went on bombing sprees.
My paternal grandparents came from Austria — ergo the name Horist. The ancestors were vintners in a small community near Vienna. My maternal great grandparents were from Poland … My grandmother was a Sirkorski — a cousin of General Sikorski, who was assassinated by the Russians in a plane crash. He was the Eisenhower of Poland and expected to be the post-war President.
No. I remember the ad, maybe have the date wrong. And it may not have been a tag line, but could have been part of a local commercial that I saw in S.E. PA either in the “You asked for it, You got it! (1975–1979)” Oh What a feeling! (1979–1985)”.
But I can tell you this for sure: You may meet the nicest people on a Honda, but you get more nooki on a Suzuki buddy!!!!
She should cough up her phd!!😁
I am sure you’re right
Where in PA are you from, we are mainliners. Howvever, we got there first and then they put the mainline around us 😊
I’ve got a hankering for some scrapple now…..
Tom … Thanks for the fine tuning on the technical point of the war in Korea.
Your welcome Larry. I was only trying to provide clarification for some readers that may not be very familiar with the Korean War. It was not covered much in today’s U.S. History classes.
Hey I listened to an excellent set of short 25- 35 minute Q&A style lectures from this professor who has indepth studied the US Founders and what they originally intended for this country based on lots of research of their original documents. The series is called “The Real American Founding: A Conversation”. Much of conversation 7 and 8 covers things you have covered in your writings here. What I found thinking back to your and Frank’s positions is that sometimes you are right, sometimes Frank is right. If you get some spare time, check out conversation 7 & 8. Its very interesting! It may also give you some material to include in future writings. See at “https://online.hillsdale.edu/courses/real-american-founding”
Frank, originally my family settled in coal country, mammoth vein around Ashville in 1920. After WWII my father married a gal from Reading and settled there. And I was born there. 🙂