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讓世界看到彩色的香港 讓香港看到彩色的世界

Opinion | China on a high-wire over the Grand Canyon

By Philip Yeung, a university teacher


Russia's war against Ukraine is full of uncertainties. But one thing is crystal-clear: the US is trying to kill two birds with one stone---the Russian hawk and the Chinese dove.

Modern warfare is fought on many fronts—military, economic, technological, financial and informational. The US is deploying these destructive weapons mercilessly. That is why this war in Europe will have repercussions far beyond the Ukrainian borders. Already, the US has dispatched its super-hawk Mike Pompeo to Taiwan which he provocatively called a "great *nation" to unsettle nerves over the fragile peace in that region. Like a boxing match, America is coming up with a combination, not a single punch to knock out its opponent, and goad China into war.

China finds itself on a tight-rope. Out of 193 UN members that debated the resolution calling for Russia to respect Ukraine's territorial integrity and for its immediate cessation of hostilities, 141 countries supported the resolution. China was among 30 odd countries that abstained. With civilian casualties mounting, it must not be seen as condoning or aiding and abetting an aggressor. But it cannot afford to completely abandon Russia either, as doing so will weaken its ability to fight US encirclement. China needs Russia as a strategic counterweight.

China is a friend of Ukraine's. It has benefited enormously from this relationship, sourcing supplies of advanced military equipment in deals opposed by the former Soviet Union.

China's foreign relations pivot on the concept of "reciprocity". It never bites a helping hand. It wants nothing but the best for Ukraine. I wish Chinese bloggers would stop being cheerleaders for Russia. Doing so endangers the lives of Chinese citizens still trapped in Ukraine.

How do you take sides when two friends are locked in a dog fight?

There is a historical hangover in the China-Russia relationship. Don't forget Russia still occupies huge chunks of Chinese territory it seized during the Tsarist and Stalinist eras. China feels the pain of having its territorial integrity violated, having lost more than 1.5 million square kilometers of land to Russian intervention since the 19th century. China's sympathies are definitely not against Ukraine.

But it has to choose "the lesser of two evils". It is against the invasion, but is also opposed to America's encroaching on Russia's doorstep--as the US protects itself with its Monroe Doctrine—rejecting any hostile foreign presence in its backyard.

China knows that two wrongs do not make one right. Walking this tight rope calls for the utmost diplomatic agility and careful calibration.

Russia is a military beast. China is an economic animal. Their relationship is not military in nature. But this does not stop Scott Morrison from accusing China of being an accessory after the fact to Russian aggression.

Morrison, the boneheaded Australian prime minister who never misses a chance to insult its largest trading partner, is at it again. He is the first to jump up and down, lashing out at China for not jumping on the American sanctions bandwagon. Where was he when the US illegally invaded Iraq and killed more than a million innocent people? And why is he silent on Saudi Arabia for not sanctioning Russia? Your righteous indignation stinks like hypocrisy.

A New York Times reporter, perfectly timed his story to suggest that President Xi allegedly asked Putin to delay his invasion of Ukraine until after the Beijing Winter Olympics, so as not to rain on China's parade.

Do you see how far-out this fabrication is? Why would Putin, a man known for his pathological secrecy, forewarn China about his military intentions? Did Putin consult China before he sold deadly advanced weapons to India to help it fight the Chinese army? Russia always acts in its own best interests, and China knows that.

Secondly, how did he stumble on such an explosive secret? Honestly, I have little faith in America's ability to eavesdrop on the hush-hush conversations between the leaders of China and Russia. It didn't even know the content of the conversation between Putin and Trump with just a lone interpreter present, when they last met in Helsinki. No one knows what was in the interpreter's notes which were quickly seized by Trump afterwards. You don't even know what was said between your leader and Putin. Now you are telling us that you are privy to what was whispered between Putin and the Chinese leader.

The latest news from the war front is that Russia has just bombed Ukraine's nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe. If not contained, the fallout will be ten times worse than Chernobyl.

Europe faces a nuclear winter.

This news spells a warning: a total, humiliating defeat for Putin may tip him over the edge. This is a man for whom defeat is worse than death. If Russia is economically strangled, and militarily neutered, I fear the worst. You forget you are dealing with an absolute leader with fingers on the nuclear button. Only last week, Putin had already rattled his nuclear sabre.

The ticklish challenge for America and its allies is this: how to neutralize Putin without triggering his nuclear reaction. Utter humiliation may usher in cataclysmic consequences. I advise the US against being intoxicated by the fantasy of total victory. It could be the end of history and humanity.

Let China play a mediator role, instead of trying to cajole it into ganging up on Putin. China is a lifeline to both sides, and may provide a dignified exit for Putin. Desperate men do desperate things. There are no winners in a nuclear war. As the Chinese proverb wisely warns: "Don't corner a dog into a dead-end alley".

Ukraine looks like a dead-end alley, and unfortunately, Russia is a Rottweiler, not a house-trained Siberian husky. I worry.


The views do not necessarily reflect those of DotDotNews.

Read more articles by Philip Yeung:

Opinion | No peace without China --- American chickens coming home to roost in Ukraine

Opinion | In the name of freedom, let Eileen Gu choose

Opinion | The Top Bureaucrats' Death Watch: Who is the next to go?

Opinion | Who are the world's good leaders?


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