EXCLUSIVE | China’s ‘bromance’ with Russia will be hard to give up-LSE professor Christopher Coker

Sursa: Kremlin.ru
 Universul.net interviewed Prof. Christopher Coker, the director of LSE IDEAS, the London School of Economics foreign policy think tank, and author of „Why War?” He is also the Director of the Ratiu Forum in Romania.


Prof. Coker was formerly a Professor of International Relations at LSE. He spoke about the Russian invasion and what might happen next. He talked about the consequences of the war and ramifications for the current world order.

Could you comment on the speech made by Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Valdai Conference in 2021?

The theme was ‘Global Shake-up in the 21st Century: The Individual, Values and the State.’


Prof. Coker outlined what the Russian president said:

<<Covid has shown the world that the world is a much more fragile place than we used to think. Peace is rarely attainable. War and conflict and violence are the norms of international politics and always have been and always will.>>

Putin said that the West has told itself certain stories that most people don’t believe about globalization, the end of great power conflicts, economic interdependence,  promoting permanent peace, global security, global civil society, human security. These are the phrases that have been very popular in the world for the last 30 or 40 years  and basically nobody believes them outside the Western world. This is not the reality they have to deal with. It’s the reality that the West would like to create, but it doesn’t have the power to do so.

The Russian leader said there are two types of societies:


<<There are those societies that can live with chaos and those societies that have difficulty in doing so. We in Russia can adjust and adapt to the prevailing realities.>>


<<He then added that his vision of politics is that there is a ‘Wild West’ out there in which the strong do what they wish and the weak what they must do. That vision is partly shared by the Chinese.>>


<<I say that because it’s the vision of someone called Wang Huning, famous for writing a vicious attack on the United States called „America v. America’ based on his living in the United States.  Xi (Jinping) of course lived in the United States (and) his hatred of the U.S. is informed by his experience of the United States and so is Huning’s. Huning is the great ideologue. He has as his pet a science fiction writer, the most famous science fiction writer in China called Liu Cixin. He wrote a three-volume most popular ever science fiction work about an alien civilization attacking Earth, which is much more complex than it sounds.>>


<< But the thesis is that the universe has only a certain amount of dark matter which doesn’t expand. Therefore, your success is always someone else’s failure, in other words it’s a zero-sum world. You can’t both be successful. Civilizations are competing with each other. ‘Life is a dark Forest,’ is the  the title of the second one. Everyone is out to get you.  It’s a Wild West in other words. You better be strong and make yourself heard and make your power felt.>>


<<This is not a Western idea which is based on liberal rules and based order.  Sure there are rules, but it is the great powers that set the rules and the small powers that have to obey them basically.>>


<<Therefore, Xi Jinping and Putin have a pretty similar view of the world.  Putin’s language is coarser of course and this is what people have noticed as maybe part of the deterioration of his personality.>>


 <<What did he say about the West the other day? „That it is just a bunch of fags’ and of course is very critical of the role of women in western society. He calls the EU Gaytopia, it’s where the gays hang out. This language he would not have used ten years ago. Xi Jingping will never use this language at least not publicly. But he has the same kind of brutalist, realist view of the world.>>


<< Essentially they both view that the West is in eternal decline and doesn’t have the strength to prop up the liberal-based order and even less power to enforce those rules when they are broken by other countries. The question now is how much is China willing to rescue Russia.>>


<<There are three groups contending in Beijing. We know this simply…  because even the newspapers are now discussing this issue openly. It shows disagreement inside the ruling party. >>


<< First is that Russia will win simply because it will double down and commit far more resources than it has held in reserve and by sheer power of numbers and determination   and ruthlessness and it will win in Ukraine whatever winning might mean. And we don’t have to do anything basically.>>


<<The second group is ‘We do have to do something. We can’t see Putin fall or his regime.  But we cannot afford to defy Western sanctions because then there could be sanctions against us.  We are not so worried about sanctions by the United States but we are worried about sanctions from our largest trading partner, the European Union.’  The investment treaty was not passed by the European Parliament last year and it’s stuck this year, it won’t be passed.I don’t know whether the summit between the EU and China which is due to be held in a few weeks time is going ahead. … But they are pretty terrified that if the EU imposes sanctions  as well on China, they are going to be locked out of this dollar-denominated market. Now they may well want to replace the dollar-denominated market with the Asian Investment Bank, with an alternative to SWIFT, with other multilateral arrangements which are very popular with anti-Western countries like  Pakistan. >>


<< There is the third group which is ‘perhaps we have backed the wrong horse. Perhaps Russia which is our only ally which is a world power. Perhaps we could do better than that.  Perhaps we could find other allies who have a future because this is a country that now has abandoned economic modernization, that is in decline, but it is dangerous because it has its nuclear weapons and it has an unpredictable person running the country.’ Of course the Chinese love predictability.>>


<<I think in the end Xi has what’s called a bromance with Putin. He’s invested a lot in his personal relationship with Vladimir Putin and he’s not willing to give that up. But as you know he has to be reaffirmed in October as ‘emperor for life’ and that is not a 100% certain. This is not the time as it were to play around with international politics.  It’s the time to just be quiet and to keep your head under the parapet. But if  they ever think sanctions are going to destroy the Putin regime, they will have to rescue him in some shape or form, but not military arms. I don’t think that’s necessary.>>


<< What Russians are concerned about of course, particularly nationalists around Putin is that they are going to become an economic satellite of China. China will buy up all the chief assets. As you know there is a great deal of racism. The Russians call the Chinese the ‘lemonski’ or ‘lemonheads. ‘ It goes back to the 19th century when  the Chinese despised the Russians and the Chinese of course would love to have their territory back which Russia pinched in 1860.>>


<<Frequently you find letters in the newspapers written by angry citizens saying: ‘Why can’t we get back what we lost in 1860?’ Russia is the only country against which China has territorial claims. It doesn’t have any territorial claims against Vietnam. In India it does have a little piece of territory up near Kashmir.  But we are talking about more than a tenth of Russian territory that China would like back….. Russians just literally grabbed it without fighting for it which makes it even worse in the Chinese eyes.>>


*This interview took place during the Ratiu Forum Journalism Workshop which took place in Turda on Monday 28th and Tuesday 29th March 2022 which I attended.  I later found out it was his birthday on Monday.






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