Last Friday, December 2, 2022, we were invited to participate in the Onda Madrid program, ATALAYAR. THE KEYS OF THE WORLD IN YOUR HANDS.
In the following Spotify link you have direct access to the interview:
The interview has been transcribed in trilingual format (Spanish, French and English) in "Atlayar. Between two shores. The keys to the world in your hands".
This is the link of the English version: https://atalayar.com/index.php/en/content/raul-ramirez-ruiz-real-cold-war-being-built-has-its-berlin-wall-south-china-sea
Text that we transcribe, always referring to the original by Atlayar. Facing the World of Onda Madrid, original text and enriched with photographs. Here we only transcribe underlining what we consider most important of what we said on December 2, 2022.
The historian and professor took to the microphones of the programme "De Cara al Mundo" to analyse the situation in China after the protests against the Zero COVID policy
The regime is very strong and is accepted by the majority of society. The protests are very large. They are taking place in areas that are sensitive because of their importance, such as Shanghai and Beijing, which are very important centres of population where the power in China really lies. For this reason, they have more qualitative importance than the quantitative importance they may have given the Chinese dimensions, but they are protests that are disconnected from each other because they protest against the specific situation of their city and, therefore, they can be easily repressed and suppressed by the state. A state and a government that still have the support of the majority of society.
No, although in analysing these protests we have to take into account three factors. The first, the fundamental one, is the weariness of society, that is, the COVID Zero policy which, although it is now called COVID Zero dynamic, which is a little more flexible than at the beginning, has really exhausted the population psychologically and is affecting many economic sectors, not in macroeconomics, but already in the economies of families and private businesses. As for Chinese society, it is true that it is exhausted by this Zero COVID policy, which they do not quite understand, especially in those cities where the Chinese elite really live and which have a small window open to the outside world, seeing that in Europe, in the West, we seem to have left COVID behind.
The second factor to bear in mind, although I don't think it is related, is that it is true that after the 20th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party with Hu Jingtao, the impression may be given in the West that there could be some division at the top of the party. I don't think so, but given what happened in Tiananmen, that in reality what happened there was a division at the top of the CCP, it could give us to understand that there could have been this coordination behind the scenes.
I don't think so from the outset because we have to take into account a third factor that we tend to overlook in Spain, which is that the Russian-Ukrainian war affects everything. There is tension between the United States, which is the West, and China. The media tend to focus on these protests in the hope of seeing more because we should not forget that with regard to the tension of the war between Russia and Ukraine and China, which with its ambiguities is aligned with Russia, it is in the West's interest to see this as a symptom of weakness in China or to sell it as such.
These three factors must be taken into account: the civilian population's weariness, a moment of mild crisis, but a clear crisis in the party with the Hu Jintao incident, and the West's interest in seeing weakness in China in these moments of real tension.
We can also think of the international financial, economic and food crisis caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which affects exports and the Chinese economy, and this could be a risk of destabilisation if growth and unemployment figures are not good.
China is quite fortified and well prepared to withstand this crisis, i.e. China sells a lot and buys little and, above all, what it buys it buys from Russia, which is energy, oil and gas. China has not been affected by these cuts in Russian gas sales of energy commodities from the West. In fact, it is buying them more cheaply. China could be affected by this situation if the US and the West were to go a step further and try to impose economic or technology transfer sanctions beyond those already in place against China, but this is not the situation.
The Russia-Ukraine war is being played by many rules of the game and the US and China are playing their own chess game on a higher level than the war and the sanctions that Europe is imposing. Therefore, the economic impact of the war on the Chinese economy is not relevant. More relevant is the psychological weariness and economic impact of the COVID Zero policy on the population, and how it is already affecting the lives and businesses of families.
In this other division between the United States and China, do you think that the United States will be able to win or is it essential that there be an agreement after the last meeting between Xi Jinping and Biden? Do you think that there could have been something more pragmatic than this global struggle and that the two leaders realised that at some point it is preferable to have a relationship of respect and guarantee stability?
Stability will be maintained, but we must not forget that today Berlin is called Taiwan, that is to say, the real Cold War that is being built at the moment has its Berlin Wall in the South China Sea. Taiwan is Berlin, it is the new Berlin, the Berlin of the old Cold War. And the Russia-Ukraine war is one of those peripheral wars, as was the Vietnam War at the time, that is to say, in the end we are facing a new world with two mega-powers that are beginning to look at each other as equals. Until now China could not look at each other as equals, now it is closer to doing so with the United States. The real tension, the real conflict is in Taiwan, which is not Taiwan itself, but the South China Sea. That is why the United States and China talk on another level and play their cards on the real battlefield of the Russia-Ukraine war. That is why China is not openly backing Russia, but it is closer to the Kremlin and will not let Moscow out of its hand.
In the end we are heading towards a new era of two powers, a bipolar world where the two heads of the world will be China and the United States, or the West, and on the other hand China as a substitute for the old Soviet Union, where Russia will be aligned but behind what is now China.
And what role can Europe play? For example, with the coronavirus, we have suffered from the relocation of our industries to China, and it is essential to recover it so that Europe does not have this dependence on China. Now with the blockade of some ports and other components, European industries are paralysed. What role do you see for Europe in relation to China?
Nobody likes to hear this, but Europe is a minor player. In fact, China does not recognise Europe as a high unitary player. When China really has to negotiate or deal with something, it deals with it country by country, power by power, for what is important, it does not recognise Europe as a unitary whole.
Europe has an absolutely secondary role and very possibly an ally of the United States and the Anglo-Saxon coalition that has come into being. Europe is of no importance right now. Europe as a whole and its individual powers, France and Germany, lack the political, military and economic strength to be able to play a relevant role in this. It's sad, it's like that, it may go a bit against the mainstream, but it's the reality. China does not recognise Europe as an EU entity to negotiate directly with it.
Do you think it might be in China's interest to put pressure on Putin to end Russia's invasion of Ukraine?
Yes, China has no interest in this war. China can play an appeasing role with its ability to influence Russia in order to shorten the duration of the war, so that negotiations can be established in which Russia renounces many of its maximalist positions. Yes, China can play a very important role because it is the big brother behind Russia's shadows right now.
"Yes, China can play a very important role because it is the big brother behind Russia's shadows right now." R3.
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