Sinologist Ivan Zuyenko: "Beijing does not need Russia as a weak, unstable state"

Sinologist Ivan Zuyenko: "Beijing does not need Russia as a weak, unstable state"

Sinologist Ivan Zuyenko: "Beijing does not need Russia as a weak, unstable state"

14 September, 17:07
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In just six months, the Russians have recognized China as the friendliest power. Business is looking towards Asia. What do the Chinese themselves think about us at this time, are they ready to be friends or are they planning to turn Russia into a raw material appendage.

Yekaterina Maksimova

Ivan Zuyenko, Associate Professor of the Department of Oriental Studies at MGIMO of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Senior Researcher at the Institute of International Studies at MGIMO , spoke about this and about the threat of a world war in an interview with NI.

- Recently, VTsIOM studied the opinion of Russians - which country they consider the friendliest. About 55% of respondents said they consider China to be their main friend. How do the Chinese treat us?

- China is a huge country with a population of one and a half billion people. Naturally, among such a large number of people there are different points of view. However, sentiments dominate that the “Ukrainian conflict” is a forced step on the part of Russia.

-And how do they evaluate this step?

The Chinese consider the United States to be the instigator of the conflict and its main beneficiary. And in this conflict, the sympathies of the Chinese people are on the side of Russia.

The point of view is quite popular that Russia is now fighting against the hegemony of the West, for the establishment of a truly multipolar world, to which China is also striving. And if Russia is not supported now, then Russia will lose, and then the West will concentrate all its efforts on counteracting China.

-And when the whole world online watched the arrival of Pelosi in Taiwan - how high was the risk of starting a full-scale war? In those days, by the way, they talked a lot about the Mianzi concept. Or, more simply, the cult of the "face".

- I'm always surprised by the experts who operate with the concepts of "the Chinese do not forgive public humiliation." On what do they base their conclusions? What historical precedents are being cited?

Of course, every country wants to have its interests respected, to listen to its words, or at least pretend to listen. The Chinese are no exception.

The visit of Nancy Pelosi (by the way, the Americans continue to claim that this is a private initiative of a particular person), of course, demonstrated the opposite. But there is a real policy - a complex multi-level process, which is influenced by many factors. Concern for national prestige is just one of them. And there are also economic considerations, security issues, calculations of the General Staff, finally. Together, it turns out that the issue of war and peace in the Taiwan Strait could not be resolved because of one episode.

The peculiarity of the current historical moment is that the whole world was watching Pelosi's flight live, and therefore the situation seemed to be beginning to develop according to the laws of show business. But this is still not show business, and Xi Jinping and his entourage are not bloggers who are ready to start the Third World War, because, as some experts put it, “they do not forgive public humiliation.”

- In the era of unprecedented sanctions imposed against Russia, the Russians only hear: you need to buy the yuan, sell gas to China, the Celestial Empire will supply us with cars ... Is China really becoming the only hope, a strategic partner of Russia?

- China is already the main strategic partner. And he became one long before February 24th. We are talking about mutual trade, and about investments, and about a common position in the international arena. There are no signs that this situation will change in the near future.

At the same time, “the main partner” is not the same as “the only hope”. Our main and, one might say, only hope is ourselves, the population of Russia. No one will solve issues in the economy, education, healthcare, and the urban environment for us. And to rely on China in this sense is as naive as before to rely on the United States, Germany or any other country.

- In your opinion, the economic friendship between Russia and China may end up with us becoming a raw material appendage of the Celestial Empire. They will “gut” us with maximum benefit for themselves, squeeze out everything that is possible and turn almost into their own colony. The wealth of our country, its geographical territory will become an industrial zone for China. Do you often hear such concerns?

- These are fierce horror stories from distant years. However, Western analysts, for whom stories about the threats of Russian-Chinese rapprochement are their daily bread, also love such stories. They have been replicated for the last two or three decades. However, it's all to no avail. Their governments, despite all the exhortations, in practice, by their pressure, are doing everything possible to make Russia and China come closer and closer.

As for the risks posed by Russian-Chinese cooperation, the main "fuse" here is the position of Russia itself. Russia is a strong sovereign state that is able to realize its own interests and has leverage to protect them. For China, Russia is needed not as a weak, unstable state, of which there are so many on our continent, but as a strong predictable foreign policy partner and a reliable supplier of strategic resources.

At the same time, Russia itself is interested in supplying them, without any colonization and “gutting”. And it is high time to forget the sayings about the "raw material appendage". China's real commodity appendages, if you look at foreign trade statistics, are Canada and Australia. The United States, until 2018, also supplied China mainly with commodities. And nothing, no one suffered.

In addition, the extraction and transportation of the same energy carriers in modern conditions is a complex high-tech process that speaks much more about the strength and advancement of the state than, for example, the organization of tourism or the production of furniture.

- Everything is already clear about energy carriers: Russia is going to the East. Gazprom is increasing gas supplies via the Power of Siberia pipeline. Another gas pipeline to China is being designed. We are now witnessing the fate of the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline and are hearing calls from the EU to turn Nord Stream 2 into a pile of scrap metal. How realistic is the repetition of the "European" scenario?

- Firstly, it is far from certain that any of the gas pipelines to Europe will turn into scrap metal. The situation is dynamic, and there is still no clear answer to the question of how Europe will compensate for the shortage of Russian gas. So in any case, it is better when there are gas pipelines than when they are not.

Secondly, at the moment we are not talking about a complete turn of Russian gas to the East, but about achieving parity between supplies to the West and to the East. Until now, much more is supplied to Europe than to Asia. The existing gas delivery infrastructure to Asia cannot cope with demand, and this, of course, needs to be corrected. This alignment does not correspond to either the political conjuncture or the market situation. Therefore, there are currently no grounds for a “European scenario” regarding gas supplies to Asia.

- Some Sinologists believe that after the Congress of the Communist Party of China, which will be held soon, some statements, decisions, actions on the scale of geopolitics may follow. Up to the aggravation of the military conflict with the United States. In particular, there may be statements related to further economic cooperation between our countries.

- I don't think. The party congress is a key event in the internal political process. Foreign policy issues, even if they are discussed, are not the focus of the delegates' attention. But those decisions (primarily personnel) that will be made at the congress will certainly affect foreign policy, including in relation to Russia.

But we will learn about them later. China as a whole is a closed country, and the political process here is not a talk show that can be followed live. Here, serious political issues are resolved behind closed doors, and the significance of a decision can often only be judged after the fact.

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