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If I were President Xi ...


If I were President Xi Jinping of the People's Republic of China, faced with Russia, I would be thinking: ok, so Vladimir Putin likes having wars. There's nothing I can do about this, and we all know that foreigners can't change Russian leaders - only Russians can, invariably in various gory ways involving hugely violent revolutions, massive internal people displacements, doctors assassinating their patients, people falling out of windows or down sealed elevator shafts, people jumping voluntarily off the sides of remote Siberian cliffs, people falling awkwardly down over-polished stairs in French mansions, and lots of other things that only make sense to Russians.


So we're stuck with him, until somebody in Russia kills him. When that happens is unpredictable.


The places Putin likes having wars are (a) Ukraine (b) the Middle East (c) Africa (d) probably anywhere else he thinks of a good reason for having a war. If he's got to have a war, (a) is better than (b) or (c) for us because we want to buy oil from the Middle East (we definitely don't want him back in Syria) and we want to pseudo-colonise Africa ("belt and road"). And we certainly want to keep him away from (d). The Russians through history have shown themselves capable of having wars with just about anyone.


So .... support his pointless war in Ukraine because it keeps Putin busy doing something we don't care about whereas he has a habit of doing things we do care about in parts of the world we do care about. Don't let him use nuclear weapons (we definitely don't want that because then the United States is going to start pointing their nuclear weapons at us) or let him cause nuclear catastrophes (we don't want people looking at all our nuclear power stations), and avoid all real confrontations with the USA, which is obviously in one of its 'hyper-militarisation' historical modes. So turn a blind eye to US destroyers sailing through the straits of Taiwan. It doesn't actually make a difference to anything anyway. Don't get provoked by the Americans. That includes not supplying military kit to Russia. Let the Iranians do that. Don't let the North Koreans do it either, or the Americans will use it as a reason to get involved in the Korean peninsula again and we really don't want that.


And quietly hunker down and keep China's domestic problems under wraps while Putin slugs it out with the world, taking advantage of price discounts for sanctions busting to offset the high hydrocarbon prices Putin's European aggression obviously forces on everyone else. More important than anything else, keep Putin in Ukraine so he doesn't go back to doing things in other places. All places Russia goes tend to have problems as a result. From the Chinese point of view, it's better he does his killing in Ukraine than anywhere else.


If I were the Chinese, that's how I would be thinking. As happens in Russia quite frequently, the guy in charge is very into killing, and that has to be managed. The Chinese, whatever faults they may have, are not very into killing. They think this is a bad thing because it interferes with what they really like to do which is to have huge monolithic workforces making things they can sell.


We wish all our readers a very Happy Orthodox Christmas.


China


Russia


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