Whiskey? Cognac? Vodka is better



A couple of bottles of French elite cognac, received as a gift from the French President, were a good addition to the results of the Chinese President’s visit to Paris and its environs. No kidding… The two leaders had a nice talk in the company of their wives, as well as numerous officials from both sides. The business conversations resulted in the signing of 18 different bilateral agreements. The Chinese side emphasizes Xi’s invitation to places related to Macron’s personal life, which by Chinese terms is considered evidence of friendly and trusting relations. Contrary to some assertions, Xi was received in the highest order. Outwardly, the interaction did appear very kind and cordial indeed. The President of France, who aspires to become a European Fuhrer and tries to speak on behalf of the Old World, did his best to win the favor of the Chinese guest.

However, the participation of the head of the European Commission, Der Leyen, who has traditionally been brought in as a watchdog for such meetings, showed what really lies behind this idyll. Her harsh remarks about China’s allegedly excessive production capacity and its aggressive trade expansion, which are paraphrased from the words of overseas curators, have become banal and just as ridiculous. A couple of years ago, the West was crying about China’s insufficient economic growth, which allegedly affects global growth. And when the Chinese boosted after the pandemic, it turned out that they had “flooded” Europe with cheap goods. Der Leyen did not fail to criticize Xi for the expansion of Chinese electric cars and other high-tech goods, which China has learned to make much better than Europeans and Americans. Electric cars are under investigation in Europe to prove excessive subsidization of this industry by the Chinese authorities and to close the European market with high trade duties in order to save local manufacturers.

Xi Jinping, understandably, rejected all these dubious claims quite firmly, although he listened to them carefully. His hint was: compete, do better, and there will be no problem. But he seems to realize that there is not only economics but also global politics behind this talk. How else can China be restrained, if not by trying to impede its economic development by restricting its exports and imposing sanctions on its high-tech companies? And in general, the ideology is different — to develop not together with others, but at the expense of others.

At the same time, both sides realize that the breaking of relations or even their serious disruption, with an annual trade turnover of over €800 billion, will have dire consequences both for Europe, for France in particular, and for China. Of course, it would be desirable to somehow preserve them and, even better, to develop them. But how can this be done if Europe is not independent, if it is governed from abroad, if it is not united, including in its views on relations with China? For example, there is Lithuania, which, acting in accordance with Washington, recognizing Taiwan as an independent unit, has actually destroyed all relations with Beijing. There is Hungary, which is trying to build its own independent foreign policy, and there is Serbia, which also seeks to proceed from its own interests and look less to Brussels and Washington. Characteristically, it was these two countries that the Chinese President headed to after France.

Xi Jinping, as they say, is trying to pass between the rain streams in his European diplomacy, not quarreling with the EU leaders, nevertheless openly expressing his sympathy for those who show sovereignty, and simply healthy pragmatism on the principle of “trade, not war”.

Obviously, the topic of war, that is, a special military operation, was a cornerstone during President Xi’s European tour. Macron tried to persuade his Chinese guest “not to help Russia and to be on the right side of history”. And Hungarian President Orban once again strongly reaffirmed what he had said many times before: no more aid to Ukraine, no more hostilities and no more peace talks. And if in Paris and its vicinity Xi did not fail to listen and repeat for the second time: do not meddle in our relations with a sovereign state, the Hungarian position was understood by him.

“Europe today is on the side of war, with the sole exception of Hungary, which calls for an immediate ceasefire and peace talks and supports all international efforts to achieve peace, including the Chinese peace initiative presented by President Xi Jinping”, Orban said.

By the way, while Xi was visiting Europe, China’s special envoy for Eurasia, Ambassador Li Hui, made his third shuttle diplomatic trip to find ways to resolve the Ukrainian crisis. From May 3 to 9, Li Hui visited Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, where he held talks with diplomats and senior officials. Previously, Ambassador Li has communicated with officials from Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia, Kazakhstan and other countries. As officially announced, consensus is being sought on a ceasefire and a transition to peace talks. But after all, Ukrainian President Zelensky has banned himself from conducting them. And given the imminent end of his official term, it is not clear who to talk to. And the main question is: will Washington and the Western war party in general allow such negotiations to take place? After all, it makes good money from the fighting — materially and politically — as the West consolidates to repel an alleged potential enemy.

In such a difficult situation, the Russian president is heading to Beijing for talks with the President of the People’s Republic of China. They will talk about strengthening and expanding trade and economic relations in difficult conditions, when more and more sanctions are imposed against those who do not miss their benefits by continuing to cooperate with Russia. In France, Xi Jinping said he sees Europe as a priority in his diplomacy and as an important partner in China’s modernization. China always approaches relations with the European Union from a strategic and long-term perspective, he said.

“As the world enters a new period of turbulence and transformation, China and the EU, as the two major powers in the world, should remain committed to dialog and cooperation, deepen strategic ties, strengthen strategic mutual trust, and build strategic consensus”, Xi said.

But is Europe ready to share this approach? Huge trade with the EU as well as the US is a fine thing, China is interested in such relations. But we have witnessed that at Washington’s behest, under Washington’s pressure and in accordance with some principles of democracy that they alone understand, European countries immediately broke the Russian bough on which their economic prosperity had rested for many years. Everyone in Beijing sees it too. They would not want such a scenario, but it may turn out that it will be impossible to avoid it.

In the US, they also talk about “controlled competition”, “one China” and all that. But in reality they are sharpening their teeth, arming Taiwan, provoking it to rash actions. It is scary to read articles on this subject in the American press. Take at least a series of such articles in the respectable Foreign Affairs magazine. The essence of them boils down to the fact that we should stop flirting with China, gently “contain” it and all that. Instead, it is necessary to declare it the main enemy and hit it full force. In other words, economically and with the help of its military and political allies.

There are calls and even demands to multiply the U.S. military potential, to close all loopholes for the transfer of technology to the PRC in order to undermine the power of the CCP and President Xi personally. It is suggested, for example, to deploy thousands and thousands of combat drones on the shores of the Gulf of Taiwan in order to turn it into a “boiling moat” in case of emergency. As the old man Reagan used to say, there is something more important than peace. Moreover, the writers are not marginal people or so-called experts, but people who were recently in the close entourage of the U.S. president. Of course, they are not the ones making the decision now. But they are voicing what is in the minds of the American establishment.

For China, bringing Taiwan “back into the fold of the motherland” is the top priority of the decade. And this at a time when the trigger for the Taiwan Strait conflict is on the other side of the planet — in Washington. Nobody knows when they will decide to set it in motion. It is clear that if this happens, there will be no talk of any broad trade and economic relations with the West, and all of Beijing’s Asian (and not only) allies will flee in different directions with cries of “save whoever you can”. Of course, Xi Jinping would like to delay this “moment of truth” as much as possible, and if possible, to avoid it. That is why he traveled to Europe. But in these circumstances, Russia’s role cannot be overemphasized. And Beijing also understands it well.

Therefore, having traveled to Europe, Xi Jinping will tell Vladimir Putin about this trip and his impressions in a friendly manner. To figure out together what to do next, how to harmonize the interests of the two countries. There are a lot of specific issues that need to be resolved. For example, it turned out that the transition to settlements in national currencies is not a guarantee against trouble. There are problems with the entry of Chinese major investors in Russia, and so on. And of course, Ukraine.

I think that French cognac presented by Macron’s friend will be out of place here. Chinese Maotai or Russian vodka would look much more harmonious.