Watch and learn
China taking note of Russia's Ukraine fiasco
We’re talking high-line across-the-(chess)board overhaul type stuff.
Chagrin because they thought Putin had Ukraine under wraps, assuming, according to Sun-Tzu, that “every battle is won before it is ever fought” (shout out to Gordon Gekko for turning us on to that one in Wall Street).
Despite the passive green light he seemed to give Putin at the Olympics, Xi was smart to keep his powder dry on all-out open support for Russia’s “special operation” as it got underway, and now must be scratching his head at the utter military disaster that it’s become—not to mention cauldron of human rights abuses and war crimes that will tarnish Russian prestige on the world stage and hobble its economy for years to come.
Not that the ChiComs have ever had any problem with abusing human rights; it’s just that nothing China has ever done, including the brutal repression of Muslim Uighurs in concentration camps, has proven “bad for business.” (Just ask Apple, the NBA, Hollywood and all the other corporate virtue-signalers who have been dissing Moscow, but still look the other way as they sign on the dotted line—and then toe it—with Beijing.) Russia, on the other hand, is on the verge of becoming a pariah state one sanction short of a hermit kingdom on par with North Korea. And all because, from Beijing’s perspective, Moscow failed to take Ukraine quickly and cleanly. Get in, get it done, take over—make it a fait accompli. (But when in history have the Russians ever done that?)
Which, if there is a bright-side to this whole dark chapter, it’s that China will certainly back off any designs it had to take Taiwan—whose military and civilian populace is even better prepared than the Ukrainians to conduct asymetric warfare against an invading force—at least for the time being.
Bad for business.
In the meantime, Beijing will watch.
Alex Holstein is the co-author of Warfighter: The Story of an American Fighting Man, due out May 15, 2022, from Lyons Press. He holds an MSc in Russian and Post-Soviet Studies from the London School of Economics, where he wrote his thesis on the Soviet KGB.