Bear nettles the Eagle, Dragon smiles [2 of 2]


Putin’s world-view is said to be ‘anti-western’ … American politicians have no interest in seeing the ‘tough guy’ at the apex of Russian power … the White House will not be delighted at the prospect of dealing with ‘prickly’ President Putin again …
Russia’s election is just in line with its own interest, far from echoing the need of Western countries. Mrs. Clinton’s reaction seems understandable. Even as Clinton spoke in Bonn on Monday, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei drew just the opposite conclusions.
He said, “We [China] believe that the election will be beneficial for Russia’s social unity, national stability and economic development.” He said China respected the choice of the Russian people, and would work with the Russians to push forward the “comprehensive partnership of coordination” between the two countries.
·

MOSCOW NOT TO TAKE LOW OF CLINTON’S MEDDLING

 IN RUSSIAN AFFAIRS

·

by M K Bhadrakumar

·

Even as Clinton spoke in Bonn on Monday, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei drew just the opposite conclusions. He said, “We [China] believe that the election will be beneficial for Russia’s social unity, national stability and economic development.” He said China respected the choice of the Russian people, and would work with the Russians to push forward the “comprehensive partnership of coordination” between the two countries.

 China made a deliberate decision to take a clear-cut stance as early as Monday although the reverse suffered by UR in the poll was known in Beijing. The Xinhua news agency in a pithy comment with Beijing dateline on Monday had even added a note of caution:

 Despite looking very likely to win the parliamentary election, many challenges lie ahead for Vladimir Putin’s United Russia, as it comes to terms with a severely reduced majority. Some analysts are citing the poor state of Russia’s economy for the drop in support. The party is also seen by many as having failed to reduce corruption, and not carrying out promises to improve government efficiency. There has also been a large amount of criticism of Putin’s government on Internet chat rooms and online forums.

***

By Tuesday, however, Xinhua carried a full commentary strongly rebutting the US allegations and the “caricature-like description” of the “forgone conclusion that Russia’s ruling party United Russia, led by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, has won the State Duma elections”.

 The nuanced commentary estimated that the core issue was not ‘democracy’ in Russia, but Putin:

 Putin’s world-view is said to be ‘anti-western’ … American politicians have no interest in seeing the ‘tough guy’ at the apex of Russian power … the White House will not be delighted at the prospect of dealing with ‘prickly’ President Putin again Russia’s election is just in line with its own interest, far from echoing the need of Western countries. Mrs Clinton’s reaction seems understandable.

Xinhua noted that Russia’s policies did not always concord with its own self-interest and at times Moscow preferred to act on issues in line with the “Western practice”, but even then, such acts “could not be a precise docking” with the western agenda and therefore, Western pressures on Russia continue. The commentary, by the way, was attributed to the People’s Daily columnist Li Hongmei.

 Quite obviously, China is keeping in view the big picture of the power dynamic on the world scene. Beijing never quite concealed its high regard for Putin as a consistent advocate of the imperatives of Sino-Russian strategic ties. But the current acrimony in the US-Russia relations also comes at a crucial juncture for China.

 On a range of fronts, coordination with Russia has become a very vital aspect of the Chinese regional policy. Not less than four times, top Chinese foreign ministry officials traveled to Moscow for consultations through the month of November.

 The Russian-Chinese coordination is at an all-time high level. Their “joint” veto in the United Nations Security Council over the resolution regarding Syria has no parallel. They followed up blocking a resolution adopted by the UN Human Rights Commission at Geneva from being transferred to the Security Council in New York. Beijing helped Moscow to get the BRICS adopt Russia’s stance on Syria as its common position.

 On Iran, too, the two countries are thwarting the US moves to impose additional sanctions. (Russian envoy to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin recently suggested that it is time the UN Security Council rolls back even the existing sanctions regime.) On Asia-Pacific, Russia stands by China in accordance with the two countries’ joint statement adopted last year in September.

Russia and China both oppose the establishment of US-North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) military bases in Afghanistan. They are both interested in enhancing Pakistan’s strategic autonomy.

 They worked together at the recent Istanbul conference (November 2) to derail Clinton’s pet New Silk Road project. A high water mark will probably be reached when Russia’s NATO envoy Dmitry Rogozin travels to Beijing (and Tehran) to discuss the US’s missile defense (ABM) program, which is posing a major hurdle in the US-Russia relations.

 Beijing has been closely but silently viewing the US-Russia shadow play over ABM and Rogozin’s consultations must be on the basis of quiet signals that Beijing wants to talk things over. Russia and China have specific interests on the ABM issue, but any degree of coordination, however tentative, would still form a new template in international security.

 Above all, Beijing counts on Putin to somehow ensure that the pending negotiations over a trillion-dollar gas deal are concluded at an early date. With the US establishing a military base in Australia and strengthening its presence in Singapore and also rallying the Asian countries to help revitalize its leadership role, China’s energy security concerns are becoming acute.

In sum, the trajectory of the current US-Russia acrimony and Putin’s success in weathering the furious American onslaught on his political career are of the highest importance to China. If the eagle has actually ended up in a trap it thought it had set up for the bear, that becomes a matter of joy for the dragon.

Concluded.

The writer M K Bhadrakumar was a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. His assignments included the Soviet Union, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Germany, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Turkey.

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