Lluís Bassets in El Pais: China is the Dangerous One

El Pais is one of Spain’s leading newspapers.

El País (Spanish: [el paˈis] (listen); lit. ’The Country’) is a Spanish-language daily newspaper in SpainEl País is based in the capital city of Madrid and it is owned by the Spanish media conglomerate PRISA.[7]

It is the second most circulated daily newspaper in Spain as of December 2017.[8] El País is the most read newspaper in Spanish online and one of the Madrid dailies considered to be a national newspaper of record for Spain (along with El Mundo and ABC).[9] In 2018, its number of daily sales were 138,000.[10]

Wikipedia article “El Pais”


Lluís Bassets writes columns and analysis on politics, especially international politics, for EL PAÍS. He has written, among others, ‘El año de la Revolución’ (Taurus), about the Arab revolts, ‘La gran vergüenza. Ascenso y caída del mito de Jordi Pujol’ (Península) and a pandemic and confined diary entitled ‘Les ciutats interiors’ (Galaxia Gutemberg).

Putin acts as an icebreaker, but it is Xi Jinping who has set out to build a new authoritarian international order.

Vladimir Putin does not have it easy. He knows what he wants, but he does not have the means to get it. The progress of his invasion speaks for itself. His victories are pyrrhic, with very high costs in lives and military equipment, and scarce and limited progress. His ambitious plan to decapitate Ukraine in a jiffy failed. He has needed 100 days to occupy only one fifth of the country. His forces are exhausted. He is also losing politically: NATO is enlarged and strengthened; the unity of the allies is not broken, despite Hungary’s veto of some EU sanctions, and Turkey’s veto of Finland and Sweden’s NATO membership; and Ukrainian national sentiment is growing as never before in history, even among Russian speakers.

With its war it not only intends to regain the Kremlin’s hegemony over a country that was part of the Soviet Union, Russia’s former imperial avatar. He also wants to extend a kind of veto right over the entire sphere of influence granted by Roosevelt and Churchill to Stalin at the Yalta summit a few months before the end of World War II. And in the unlikely event of succeeding, he wants to change the international correlation of forces, so that the United States would disengage itself from European affairs, and a divided and weakened European Union would be overwhelmed by a victorious Russia.

Russia’s purpose is revolutionary, since it seeks to change the international order, but it has neither the instruments nor the power to achieve it. Only China has everything: will, power and means, as acknowledged by Secretary of State Antony Blinken in his speech on White House policy towards Beijing. Combating climate change and pandemics, maintaining international value chains and stabilizing the global economy are not the same thing as guaranteeing the supply of energy to Europe or grain to African and Asian countries, still controlled by Russia, which is using them in its war against Ukraine.

Blinken spoke of China but was thinking of Russia. He does not want regime change for China. Nor does he want a conflict with China or a cold war. He is not even interested in hindering its rise as a superpower. He does not fear a strong China, but what China does with its strength. Hence it considers it a greater danger than Russia. A way of saying that it is Beijing that it fears and not Moscow.

Faced with the war in Ukraine, China maintains a calculated ambivalence. Tactically, it is interested in the destruction Putin is perpetrating, hence its implicit support for the invasion. Strategically, it is thinking of how to take advantage of the invasion and a defeated Russia, perhaps even offering itself as a peacemaker. Putin is the icebreaker, but it is Xi Jinping who has the capacity to build a new authoritarian international order.


Original Spanish language text:

China es el peligro

Putin actúa de rompehielos, pero Xi Jinping es quien se ha propuesto construir un nuevo orden internacional autoritario

Vladímir Putin no lo tiene fácil. Sabe lo que quiere, pero no cuenta con los medios para obtenerlo. Habla por sí sola la marcha de su invasión. Son pírricas sus victorias, con costes altísimos en vidas y material militar, y escasos y limitados avances. Fracasó su ambicioso plan de decapitar Ucrania en un santiamén. Ha necesitado 100 días para ocupar solo una quinta parte del país. Sus fuerzas están exhaustas. También está perdiendo políticamente: la OTAN se amplía y refuerza; no se quiebra la unidad de los aliados, a pesar del veto de Hungría a algunas sanciones de la UE, y de Turquía al ingreso de Finlandia y Suecia en la OTAN; y crece el sentimiento nacional ucranio como nunca en la historia, incluso entre los rusófonos.

Con su guerra no pretende tan solo recuperar la hegemonía del Kremlin sobre un país que formó parte de la Unión Soviética, el anterior avatar imperial de Rusia. También quiere extender una especie de derecho de veto sobre la entera esfera de influencia concedida por Roosevelt y Churchill a Stalin en la cumbre de Yalta, pocos meses antes de que terminara la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Y en el caso improbable de conseguirlo, cambiar así la correlación de fuerzas internacional, de forma que Estados Unidos se desentienda de los asuntos europeos, y una Unión Europea dividida y debilitada se vea desbordada por la Rusia victoriosa.

Su propósito es revolucionario, puesto que trata de cambiar el orden internacional, pero no tiene ni los instrumentos ni el poder suficiente para conseguirlo. Solo China lo tiene todo, voluntad, poder y medios, según ha reconocido el secretario de Estado Antony Blinken en su discurso sobre la política de la Casa Blanca respecto a Pekín. No es lo mismo combatir el cambio climático y las pandemias, mantener las cadenas internacionales de valor o estabilizar la economía global, cuestiones que exigen la concertación con China, que garantizar el suministro de energía a Europa o de cereales a los países africanos y asiáticos, todavía controlados por Rusia, que los utiliza en su guerra contra Ucrania.

Blinken habló de China pero pensaba en Rusia. No quiere para China un cambio de régimen. Tampoco le conviene un conflicto con China o una guerra fría. Ni siquiera le interesa obstaculizar su ascenso como superpotencia. No teme a una China fuerte, sino lo que China haga con su fortaleza. De ahí que la considere un peligro mayor que Rusia. Una forma de decir que es a Pekín a quien teme y no a Moscú.

Ante la guerra en Ucrania, China mantiene una calculada ambivalencia. Tácticamente, le interesa el destrozo que Putin está perpetrando, y de ahí su apoyo implícito a la invasión. Estratégicamente, piensa en cómo aprovecharse de la invasión y de una Rusia derrotada, quizás incluso ofreciéndose como artífice de la paz. Putin es el rompehielos, pero es Xi Jinping quien cuenta con la capacidad para construir un nuevo orden internacional autoritario.

SOBRE LA FIRMA

Lluís Bassets

Lluís Bassets

Escribe en EL PAÍS columnas y análisis sobre política, especialmente internacional. Ha escrito, entre otros, ‘El año de la Revolución’ (Taurus), sobre las revueltas árabes, ‘La gran vergüenza. Ascenso y caída del mito de Jordi Pujol’ (Península) y un dietario pandémico y confinado con el título de ‘Les ciutats interiors’ (Galaxia Gutemberg).

About 高大伟 David Cowhig

After retirement translated, with wife Jessie, Liao Yiwu's 2019 "Bullets and Opium", and have been studying things 格物致知. Worked 25 years as a US State Department Foreign Service Officer including ten years at US Embassy Beijing and US Consulate General Chengdu and four years as a China Analyst in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Before State I translated Japanese and Chinese scientific and technical books and articles into English freelance for six years. Before that I taught English at Tunghai University in Taiwan for three years. And before that I worked two summers on Norwegian farms, milking cows and feeding chickens.
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