Discover more from Andrew Korybko's Newsletter
Macron & Von Der Leyen’s Trip To China Served A Very Pragmatic Purpose
The EU wanted to know what would have to happen for China to cross Brussels’ “red line” by arming Russia, while China wanted to know whether the EU would be willing to cross Beijing’s “red line” in that scenario by sanctioning it in response. Both sides also wanted to explore just how far the other would go if they felt compelled by circumstances or pressured by the US respectively, ergo another reason why they all felt it important enough to make the time out of their busy schedules to meet over the past few days.
Many in the Alt-Media Community (AMC) dismissed the importance of French President Macron and European Commissioner Von Der Leyen’s trip to China, implying that President Xi wasted his precious time meeting with them over several days all for nothing. In truth, their trip actually served a pragmatic purpose in that it allowed each party to speak candidly about their concerns at this pivotal moment in the global systemic transition, hence why all sides made the time to meet with one another in Beijing.
While it’s true that the two European representatives wishfully hoped that they’d sway their Chinese counterpart around to seeing the NATO-Russian proxy war in Ukraine the same way that they do, that wasn’t the primary reason why everyone took the time out of their busy schedules last week. What really brought them all together in Beijing was the impending inflection point that’s quickly approaching in that aforementioned conflict.
Kiev’s upcoming counteroffensive will be a make-or-break moment. On the one hand, it could wildly succeed in pushing Russia back to its pre-2014 borders, in which scenario China could then feel compelled to arm Moscow as a last resort in order to preemptively avert the possibility of it losing. That would in turn prompt the US to pressure the EU into sanctioning the People’s Republic, thus spiking the chances that they’ll swiftly decouple, which would harm both of their interests while advancing the US’.
On the other hand, however, Kiev’s counteroffensive might not ultimately achieve all that much as evidenced by the Washington Post’s report a month back about how poorly its troops are faring. In that scenario, Russia could either flip the momentum to make a major breakthrough across the Line of Contact and beyond or seriously encourage Kiev to agree to a ceasefire. The last-mentioned possibility would certainly be supported by China and most likely France now too.
Considering the grand strategic stakes connected to the outcome of Kiev’s upcoming counteroffensive, which will probably lead either to a Chinese-EU decoupling per the first scenario or China and France jointly mediating a ceasefire per the second, it made sense why they’d all meet ahead of time. The real drivers of events are the US, its Polish-led Central European partners (which includes the Baltic States), and their proxies in Kiev, whose success or lack thereof will shape the future of Chinese-EU ties.
It doesn’t have to be this way, of course, but the fact of the matter is that the EU is unlikely to be able to effectively resist the US’ sanctions pressure in the event that China feels compelled into arming Russia as a last resort as was earlier explained. They know how painful it would be for their already struggling economies, especially since this dramatic scenario could push them over the edge into a full-fledged recession, but that’s precisely why two of their top representatives wanted to speak to President Xi.
He wanted to speak to them too in order to clarify that China hasn’t yet armed Russia but perhaps also explain why it might feel compelled to do so in the hypothetical sense without directly confirming this contingency plan due to how sensitive it is. Simply put, the EU wanted to know what would have to happen for China to cross Brussels’ “red line” by arming Russia, while China wanted to know whether the EU would be willing to cross Beijing’s “red line” in that scenario by sanctioning it in response.
Both sides also wanted to explore just how far the other would go if they felt compelled by circumstances or pressured by the US respectively, ergo another reason why they all felt it important enough to make the time out of their busy schedules to meet over the past few days. If the whole purpose was just for the European representatives to spew propaganda to President Xi aimed at swaying him to their side in the NATO-Russian proxy war, then the trip wouldn’t have taken place.
The AMC’s top influencers were therefore far off the mark in assessing the purpose of last week’s visit, which failed to account for the pragmatic reason why all three parties prioritized meeting at this specific time. It was important for them to speak candidly about how they’ll react to the two most likely forthcoming scenarios to emerge from Kiev’s upcoming counteroffensive, which will result in them either decoupling under US pressure or working together to broker a ceasefire.
In the interim between their meeting and whichever of those two trajectories their ties are pushed along, all sides at least had something tangible to show with respect to the statements released by Macron and Von Der Leyen after their respective meetings with President Xi. Russia’s TASS drew attention to three highlights from the former concerning their support for a UN-enshrined multipolar world order, peace in Ukraine based on international law, and overlap on many other issues.
While cynics might claim that these statements have more symbolism to them than substance, they’re at least something that all parties can build upon in the scenario that China doesn’t feel compelled to arm Russia as a last resort or the EU largely resists the US’ pressure to sanction it if that happens. In any case, President Xi wouldn’t waste his valuable time staging a multi-day photo-op just for the sake of releasing several perfunctory statements so it should be taken for granted that China’s intent is sincere.
This insight further discredits the AMC’s over-simplistic conclusion that the whole trip was a gigantic waste of everyone’s time and failed to achieve anything worth the three parties’ while. It might not result in avoiding the worst-case sequence of events that was earlier described regarding their accelerated decoupling under US pressure, but the intent was to candidly discuss the future of their ties in that context in an attempt to mitigate the mutually disadvantageous consequences if that unfolds.