Update – Apparently the COSC piece has been censored off social media (Weibo) in China. That means it is not officially “approved.” It does not necessarily mean it is “officially disagreed with.” The Chinese don’t like to wash dirty laundry in public. Publishing it internationally and burying it domestically could be a way to get the message across without causing too much embarrassment. The guy who wrote it is definitely not a dissident although I don’t know how much influence he has.
The NYT piece cited was DEFINITELY “Official.” It is arguably just more politely saying the same thing.
China is telling Russia to shut this failed adventure down. Find some way to declare victory and get out of Ukraine within 1-2 weeks. Planting season is coming up and this is making us look bad.
This piece out of China is a doozy. Astonishing. Per the last sentence, he’s arguing China should join the global sanctions on Russia. That would be game over. I’ve excerpted longer quotes below. The whole piece is short and worth a read.
After Putin’s blitzkrieg failed, the hope of Russia’s victory is slim… [As a result of the war] The United States would regain leadership in the Western world, and the West would become more united… American leadership in the Western world will rebound… China cannot be tied to Putin and needs to be cut off as soon as possible. At present, it is estimated that there is still a window period of one or two weeks before China loses its wiggle room. China must act decisively.To demonstrate China’s role as a responsible major power, China not only cannot stand with Putin, but also should take concrete actions to prevent Putin’s possible adventures..
These sort of pieces are public signals of private, official conversations.
- Senior Chinese Foreign Policy Gurus (SCFPG) don’t write English-translated pieces in the “US China Perception Monitor” unless they are meant to be read. This one seems intended to publicly state concerns that China doesn’t want to voice “officially.” It is a real barn burner.
- SCFPG’s also don’t just dash off New York Times opinion pieces for fun. Not does the NYT publish stuff like this for the riveting prose.
Both of them say the same thing. This war must end soon. It is safe to assume China – Russia’s only important “friend” left – is saying this a lot more clearly in private.
The guy who wrote the piece cited above looks to be a heavy hitter. His piece is a real barn burner – quotes below my emphasis.
Hu Wei is the vice-chairman of the Public Policy Research Center of the Counselor’s Office of the State Council (COSC), the chairman of Shanghai Public Policy Research Association, the chairman of the Academic Committee of the Chahar Institute, a professor, and a doctoral supervisor.
“the COSC was initiated by Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai and other members of the older-generation proletarian revolutionists in November 1949… to participate in the discussion of public affairs, make recommendations, consult on state affairs… The Counsellors and researchers are appointed by the Premier of the State Council. There are now 57 counsellors, 65 researchers (with the CCICH) and 34 research fellows.”
- Vladimir Putin may be unable to achieve his expected goals, which puts Russia in a tight spot… At this point, Putin’s best option is to end the war decently through peace talks, which requires Ukraine to make substantial concessions. However, what is not attainable on the battlefield is also difficult to obtain at the negotiating table. In any case, this military action constitutes an irreversible mistake.“
- The Russo-Ukrainian war may escalate beyond the scope and region of Ukraine, and may even include the possibility of a nuclear strike. Once this happens, the U.S. and Europe cannot stay aloof from the conflict, thus triggering a world war or even a nuclear war. The result would be a catastrophe for humanity and a showdown between the United States and Russia. This final confrontation, given that Russia’s military power is no match for NATO’s, would be even worse for Putin.
- Even if Russia manages to seize Ukraine in a desperate gamble, it is still a political hot potato. Russia would thereafter carry a heavy burden and become overwhelmed… The [Russian] domestic economy will be unsustainable and will eventually be dragged down. This period will not exceed a few years [ie, it would be a rapid decline].
- The political situation in Russia may change or be disintegrated at the hands of the West. After Putin’s blitzkrieg failed, the hope of Russia’s victory is slim… With Russia’s economy on the verge of collapse, it would be difficult for Putin to prop up the perilous situation even without the loss of the Russo-Ukrainian war. If Putin were to be ousted from power… Russia’s status as a great power would come to an end.
- Analysis of the Impact of Russo-Ukrainian war On International Landscape: The United States would regain leadership in the Western world, and the West would become more united. At present, public opinion believes that the Ukrainian war signifies a complete collapse of U.S. hegemony, but the war would in fact bring France and Germany, both of which wanted to break away from the U.S., back into the NATO defense framework, destroying Europe’s dream to achieve independent diplomacy and self-defense. Germany would greatly increase its military budget; Switzerland, Sweden, and other countries would abandon their neutrality. With Nord Stream 2 put on hold indefinitely, Europe’s reliance on US natural gas will inevitably increase. The US and Europe would form a closer community of shared future, and American leadership in the Western world will rebound.
- The power of the West will grow significantly, NATO will continue to expand, and U.S. influence in the non-Western world will increase… China will become more isolated under the established framework.
- China cannot be tied to Putin and needs to be cut off as soon as possible. In the sense that an escalation of conflict between Russia and the West helps divert U.S. attention from China, China should rejoice with and even support Putin, but only if Russia does not fall. Being in the same boat with Putin will impact China should he lose power. Unless Putin can secure victory with China’s backing, a prospect which looks bleak at the moment, China does not have the clout to back Russia. The law of international politics says that there are “no eternal allies nor perpetual enemies,” but “our interests are eternal and perpetual.” Under current international circumstances, China can only proceed by safeguarding its own best interests, choosing the lesser of two evils, and unloading the burden of Russia as soon as possible. At present, it is estimated that there is still a window period of one or two weeks before China loses its wiggle room. China must act decisively.
- China should avoid playing both sides in the same boat, give up being neutral, and choose the mainstream position in the world… China should achieve the greatest possible strategic breakthrough and not be further isolated by the West. Cutting off from Putin and giving up neutrality will help build China’s international image and ease its relations with the U.S. and the West… China’s top priority is to make appropriate strategic adjustments accordingly, to change the hostile American attitudes towards China, and to save itself from isolation. The bottom line is to prevent the U.S. and the West from imposing joint sanctions on China… To demonstrate China’s role as a responsible major power, China not only cannot stand with Putin, but also should take concrete actions to prevent Putin’s possible adventures. China is the only country in the world with this capability, and it must give full play to this unique advantage. Putin’s departure from China’s support will most likely end the war, or at least not dare to escalate the war. As a result, China will surely win widespread international praise for maintaining world peace, which may help China prevent isolation but also find an opportunity to improve its relations with the United States and the West.
Wow. BTW, I agree with all of the above in terms of its impact on China and the likely emerging new world order. He doesn’t see a tripolar world either…
The Vice Chair of a small, semi-official body established in 1949 isn’t just mouthing off. His piece is only one side of the debate within China. Others are presumably arguing the opposing case. But, arguing in China’s self-interest, how would you write a convincing rebuttal – Why China’s Best Interests Lie with Standing By Putin? I’d find that a very tough brief to write.
Also note another “semi official” opinion piece in the NYT today. Its a duller read, but note the Author. Its is not just a Letter to the Editor. Dr. Wang Huiyao (@huiyaowang) is the founder and president of the Center for China and Globalization, a nongovernmental think tank based in Beijing. He advises the Chinese government in that capacity.
“And so, unpalatable as some in the West may find the idea, it is time to offer the Russian leader an offramp with China’s help. On Tuesday, President Xi Jinping of China held a virtual summit with President Emmanuel Macron of France and Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany, urging a diplomatic solution.” China has a significant economic interest in a quick resolution to the Russian-Ukrainian war. China enjoys strong ties with Russia and Ukraine and is both countries’ largest single trading partner, though each trades more with the E.U. bloc than with China. Russia and Ukraine are crucial components of the Belt and Road infrastructure program as well as conduits for China’s trade with Europe. China-Europe rail transports have experienced a hundredfold increase since the beginning of the 2010s, but the ongoing conflict threatens to disrupt these trade flows.