China & Crimea: Ideals And Reality, Glory And Dreams

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Yang Hengjun via The Diplomat,

By abstaining on the UN vote on Crimea, China made a good choice. I wonder, is China the most frequent abstainer from UN Security Council votes? Earlier, when China’s international clout was lower, abstaining from voting was always interpreted as a sign of helplessness and a desire to avoid trouble. However, now that China has grown strong, the interpretation is different. Now it seems that China is showing its strength and its strategic independence through abstention votes. The policy of “hiding one’s strength and biding one’s time” is the same way—when China was weak, it was the only choice, but now that China is strong it becomes a conscious, free choice. In the international chess match, the same phrase now has a completely different meaning.

Today we often hear people shout that China should get rid of the policy of “hiding one’s strength and biding one’s time,” because they take Vladimir Putin as their spiritual teacher. They point out that Putin dares to “say no” to the West and to the whole world. In their eyes, “saying no” is the same as abandoning the “hiding and biding” policy. However, the foreign policy of a state should be based on national interests, national security and national stability, and more importantly on economic development and the improvement of people’s lives. Who is not able to “say no”? During a time when many Chinese people were starving to death, our whole nation kept “saying no” to the world. Even those countries who wanted to provide aid to us were rejected with a “no.” Was it really that great?

Why does Putin want to “say no”? It’s because the West has no respect for him. Whether or not Putin “says no” makes little difference on the international stage. His “no” has never brought any benefits to Russia, so why does he keep saying it? The answer is that Putin’s “saying no” to the West is directed at a Russian audience—he wants to use this to build up a tough-guy image for himself and arouse the nationalistic mood among the Russian people. Afterwards, he can ensure that he can remain the “elected president” for his entire life. This is Putin’s dream.

Since Putin took office in 2000, international oil prices have been soaring. Putin took advantage of his good luck and stylized himself as “Putin the Great” who restored Russia’s glory…

Diplomatic relations can be roughly categorized into realism (utilitarianism) and idealism (led by ideology and philosophy). Although realism has been dominant in modern times, idealism has seemingly been everywhere and nowhere. I can distinguish the diplomatic practices of China and U.S. in this way: U.S. is a realist with ideals, while China is a realistic idealist. The “realism” of each country is more or less the same, but the ideals are not. The U.S. adores liberty and democracy while China worships the idea of a socialist democracy with Chinese characteristics. Despite its ideals, the U.S. often makes compromises in its philosophy for practical benefits. And although China is relatively realist, it sometimes makes some concessions in its realism to prioritize principles such as the stability of the state and the leadership of the ruling party.  It’s because of such compromises and concessions by the U.S. and China that “new type great power relations” becomes possible.

Russia, however, is a realist through and through. Of course, you can’t blame Russia for this…

Nevertheless, realism is not easy. As we all know, realist foreign policy relies on the strength of a state. What kind of strength does Russia have? The money from selling oil may be barely enough to improve people’s livelihood and therefore ensure that Putin wins consecutive terms, but this is not enough to impress the international community. But Putin is smarter than anyone else. Without ideals, and without the power to pursue realist goals abroad, Putin wanted to have the people consider him as a hero, to believe that without Putin they would be bullied by foreigners. And the only way to do that was to stoke up nationalism by habitually opposing the West and always having the word “no” on his lips.

That is why Putin has never hesitated in saying “no” to the West, especially the U.S., whenever he could. Although internationally such opposition amounts to nothing, he has enjoyed an increasingly higher reputation among the “Russian people” who grew up under the Soviet Union. In today’s Russia, which rarely mentions freedom and democracy but also doesn’t dare to raise Soviet ideology, “Putin” has become the “ideology” and “ideal” of the state. At this time, Crimea is just like manna from heaven, a God-given opportunity to Putin.

Putin just has to take Crimea. Meanwhile, considering Russia’s national interests and security, annexing Crimea had a hundred benefits and no harms. The West’s choices are extremely limited. Putin will never be afraid of military intervention. The Soviet Union was defeated in a clash of ideology and wills, not in real battles. With this in mind, Putin would rather resort to arms than confront the U.S. in a battle of ideals and convictions.

The U.S. knows this, and won’t resort to the use of force. As for economic sanctions, oil is the mainstay of Russia’s economy and (because shale gas in the U.S. has not started mass production) Russia’s oil is irreplaceable. And in terms of trade restrictions, don’t forget about China. Without the involvement of China, the world’s second largest economy, a country that can manufacture anything except sophisticated weapons (which Russia, incidentally, does make), how can economic sanctions work?

The timing of Russia’s confrontation with the U.S. is good for China not only in terms of economy and military “benefits,” but even more so in the political dimension. The “new type great power relations” between China and the U.S. is just waiting for a final push—this confrontation from Putin could help the U.S. to become more realistic and more sober-minded. America, don’t spend all day thinking about “peaceful evolution” in Beijing—China is just a panda; your “enemy” is a polar bear.

Someone may say that China should take this chance to ally with Russia in confronting the United States. I say to these people, you can’t defeat the U.S, so what’s the use of wasting human resources, materials, and energy? And allying with Russia is even less appealing—there’s no need to, and taking a long-term view there are too many variables to consider. When Putin steps down or dies, Russia will change overnight—at that time, when the Russian people have lost “Putin the Great,” will they have any choice other than embracing liberty and democracy? However, China has options and thus doesn’t need to tie itself to any great power.

The problems in Crimea are complicated and there’s some truth to each side. If you really want to separate right from wrong, you’ll probably find that there’s not even a unified standard to determine “right” and “wrong.” According to the constitution of Ukraine, the referendum of Crimea is certainly unlawful. But just like the pursuit of liberty and democracy, national self-determination can supersede any national constitution. Otherwise, how did so many colonized and newly established nations achieve their independence? And how did the 15 unified republics of the Soviet Union vote to secede regardless of the constitution of Soviet Union?

The complexity of Crimea also comes from this: Putin’s merging with Crimea not only broke the pattern of international relations in the post-Cold War era, but also went against the main trend of history in the past 100 years. What main trend of history? As everyone knows, in the past 100 years, almost all the great empires have disintegrated (including China, as when Russia helped Outer Mongolia split off). These empires have broken up into smaller nations. This trend began with colonized areas one by one gaining independence, and continued up until the collapse of Soviet Union. Looking back over many years, Russia’s annexation of Crimea is the only case in which a great power acquired so a large piece of territory in an instant (of course, this does not include the large piece of land which was stolen from China’s hands by Russia in the past). Only the God who gave this manna to Russia knows what price Russia will pay for this in the future.

The best choice for China in the Crimea problem is to make no choice; the best stance for China is not to take sides. China needs a peaceful international environment. In the future, China should both develop with the U.S. a no-confrontation, no-conflict, win-win “new type great power relationship.” But China should also develop a “new type great power relationship” with Russia that is neutral, not an alliance. In addition, China should focus on developing multilateral relationships with Europe, the Americas, and Australia, while at the same time putting more efforts and investing more energy into improving relations with neighboring countries. If those major relationships are well managed, even if the world experiences more “Crimea incidents,” how could it have a big impact on China’s interests and dreams?

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Brit_Abroad's picture

Spot on

I can't believe you got down votes for this

honestann's picture

The original formulation allows the fictional authorities to decide how much imposition on our lives is "oppressive".  So what?  Every abuse just a tad short of "oppressive" constitutes "liberty"?  Seriously?  Not to mention that the concept "authority" is total fiction.

Note how these clever predators tweak definitions just a little to completely eliminate the possibility of a concept that means "liberty" --- by converting the meaning of "liberty" into something that means "abuse up to but not including whatever the authorities deem oppressive".

Since every so-called "authority" always deems everything he does as "not oppressive" by definition, accepting these fake definitions eliminates the possibility of even thinking about liberty.  Since humans think with concepts, that's what happens when the meanings of concepts and ideas are co-opted and reformulated as their opposites.

Yeah, you really do need to wonder how anyone can vote against their own liberty.  Sheesh!

Againstthelie's picture

U.S. is a realist with ideals

Hm, what ideals do Plutocrats have?


It seems the author is part of the problem, the world has...


Dr. Bonzo's picture


Note: there's a script error that prevents voting on a post if the first character of a post is italics.

john.smith's picture

I feel this article like many others is simply trying to ascribe a personal reason to Putin annexing Crimea ("He wants to rule forever etc..."), but that seems far too naive. Just consider the situation from the perspective of Russian interests: You have a US that appears determined to make all the countries around Russia "Pro-US" to the detriment of Russia, and furthermore the US wants to eventually place a sophisticated missle system that is obviously aimed at containing Russian military capabilities (regardless of what the US says). From the point of view, it becomes clear that Russia had no choice but to act. Taking Crimea was only the first phase, I suspect at some point Russia will annex Eastern Ukraine as well while make Western Ukraine very weak and lost, just because they have to to secure their borders. Otherwise, the Russians will eventually be encircled by the West. Despite the fact there are some Chinese who have reservations about Russia or who like working with the West moreso than Russia, I am sure many decision makers in China can see the parallels between the situation facing Russia and their own country (with US bases in so many of China's neighbors and the US trying to shift more military precense to that area to contain China). Although China maybe reluctant to do so, I have a hard time imagining they would just leave Russia alone, since they may be forced to act next.

besnook's picture

this reads like a recruiting post for the new american century, the wrong side of the 21st century.


beaglebog's picture

If the good Lord didn't mean me to "sit on the fence" ... he wouldn't have provided me with a crack in my arse.

falak pema's picture

China plays GO and Putin plays Chess; winner take all in check mate! 

Whence the cultural divide between East and West.

The West likes to cut the Gordian knot to find resolution. 

The East likes to let it lie in some ashram as sign of Man's eternal problem. 

'Having' and 'Being' are two faces of the same conundrum. 

Cog Dis is very oriental in his thinking here on ZH. 

Whereas WB7 is more western : Chop off their f****** heads; all these bankstas and crony baloneys! 

TDs regale us with their financial/geopolitical analysis/commentary and despair us with their Miserly songs of gold buggery.

All the while the FED fights to defend the Geenback AT ANY COST. 

TO each his own! 


(I'm sure the Google guys think they know ALL  the answers to the world's future in their new, hi-tech, groovy Bohemian Cove out in California)

But I'm just a lonely camel on a mad run from salt pillar to sweet and sour post, on this crazy cloud, this Magma of human dreams we call the NET.

Some Pastafarian spaghetti bowl ! 

messystateofaffairs's picture

The USA has become a hypocritical virus developed by some mad satanically inspired "scientists" who think they work for G_d. Russia has no choice but to defend itself and is fortunate to have Putin at this time. In fact we all are fortunate to have a force that provides some containment to the plague the US and its masters have become.

The author of this article is either a NWO shill or naive and uninformed.

tony wilson's picture


Why would Israel have a plane identical to the missing Malaysia Airlines plane in storage in Tel Aviv?   

 Boeing 777 2H6(ER) first flown in July 1998, Construction No. 28416* (Original Reg. No. 9M-MRI), an identical twin of the missing plane, which was given a new registration number (N105GT) and flown to Israel in November 2013.

AnAnonymous's picture

The constance in 'american' standards.

This 'american' article contains some of the pearls 'americans' are able to deliver.

Diplomacy comes in two flavours: realism (utilitarianism) and idealism.

With 'americans', always the same way: it starts with a big thick lie to part between those who are with them or those who are against them. The means to discriminate between being that only those who are with them could turn their eyes to the big, thick lie.

Right from the start, this 'american' author pushes in bracket what he means for realism, that is utilitarianism. Wonderful. So he doesnt mean actually realism for 'americanism', many things are not supposed to be real, only a few, the mass of unreal things coming to cover for what is real.
'Americanism' is a gigantic masquerade.

Better, immediately after, that 'american' propagandist provides his own definition of idealism (led by ideology and philosophy)

Increase on that: utilitarianism is itself an ideology. So it is included into idealism.

Written again: in diplomacy, two ways: idealism and idealism.

Only 'americans' to deliver such pearls.

Another guy who think he deserves every cent he makes. For this is the way 'americans' feel about themselves.

blindman's picture

put the nouns in perspective and differentiate
their muddied faces from your potential to do
what you know to be the right thing.
questions: what, if anything, precludes a representative
form of government from totally embracing fascism?
is the tyranny of the few better than the tyranny of
the many?
is the potential and tyranny of complexity better than
the potential and tyranny of simplicity?
is there some fine balance of
the right amount of quality and quantity? a "golden" rule
to which people can adhere?
why was the constitution referred to as "just a piece of paper"?
the noun "person", does it really need to be muddied up to
the point where it has no significance regarding the rights
of the individual at peace with him/herself?
federal law vs common law, are they compatible in spirit
or word?

intotheblack's picture

" Why does Putin want to “say no”? It’s because the West has no respect for him. "--what is this goofball talking about? Remember the so-called "reset button" or Obama pleading with Putin over a hot mic that he would have "more flexibility after the election?" Remember Obama unilaterally and without asking for anything in exchange dismantling Bush-era anti-missile batteries in Eastern Europe? All Putin ever got was respect as well as credit for progressive policies he never, ever pursued.

Western elites assume with grim consistency that everyone either shares their values or is either stupid or acts in bad faith. 

Vin's picture

"The U.S. adores liberty and democracy while China worships the idea of a socialist democracy with Chinese characteristics."

What America do you live in?  The Lyin' King's America is no different than any fascist state in its early formation.....gestapo (DHS), constant surveillance (NSA), media control (mainstream media), tyranical control of govt (Obama makes his own laws), monetary control (The Fed), laws permitting arrest and murder of political opponents (Patriot Act and addendums), and disarming of the public (current gun-grabbing campaign).

Welcome to the new Amerika.

thurstjo63's picture

Yang is oblivious to much of what is happening. First, there is little upside to partnering with the US. What nation on the planet can say that they have a win win relationship with the US? What would be the first thing the US would try to do? It would look to force up the Renminbi in relation to the dollar and get China to bail them out as much as possible. But when the US has over $100 trillion dollar debts, what benefit could China derive from partnering with the US. It's like partnering with a girl with venerial disease. Nothing good can come out of it. I'm sure that 2000 years ago, one said the same thing about Rome. But I guess basic economics is not Yang's strong point because if you cannot print money to maintain basic infrastructure as well as the military, the majority will either need to be sold off or melted down. The money it takes to maintain the military infrastructure is huge. It's presently for the most part, off budget. When you cannot print money and need to for those expenditures to be backup with taxes or credit, as most of the countries in europe as well as many in south american can attest to, it's alot more difficult when your currency is no longer the reserve currency. 

As for Russia, if one isn't as nieve as Yang to believe the kool-aid from the western media, then one can understand that Russia has genuine interests in protecting its border. It won't matter if it's Putin or someone else. If the russian politician is unable to show he or she is capable of standing up to the west, in most cases, they won't remain in power.