Putin Getting Played By China, Needs A Deal With Trump

Image by Министерство обороны Российской Федерации
The flags of Russia and China

In the recently published book ‘The Hundred Year Marathon, China’s Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower,’ Michael Pillsbury, the former Reagan advisor and China expert, explains how the West was hoodwinked by a China feigning weakness in order to acquire Western technology and assistance, all the while building to challenge America for world dominance when ready.

Vladimir Putin would do well to read this book.

The gist of the book is that China used America’s desire to defeat the Soviet Union to acquire everything it needed from America while secretly plotting to defeat the United States for world dominance.

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Beijing is now doing the same thing, only the players have switched sides.

Today, Russia needs China, in order to confront America and the agenda of the Trump administration. China has joined Russia in military exercises from the South China to the Baltic Sea. They are no doubt colluding with Russia to removed the U.S. dollar from world trade flows. But what is Moscow giving up for Beijing’s help and PR support?

For starters, China is doing what the Soviets long feared: taking Russian land in Siberia. Apparently, the Kremlin has decided ‘leasing’ tens of millions of acres of farmland in the region is worth the risk. Will the Russian Federation get these lands back? Who knows.

China is also getting a partner in confronting Trump’s trade policy which is intent on stopping China’s theft of technology and intellectual property.

However, the main thing China wants is energy. And they are going to get a lot of it from Russia, mainly in the form of natural gas. Major pipelines from Russian gas fields to the Middle Kingdom are nearing completion. However, there are reports that China drove a very hard bargain with Moscow, which was desperate to replace European customers since EU/U.S. sanctions began biting after the annexation of Crimea. Some analysts submit that Russia is barely breaking even on the long-term contracts.

Putin’s pivot to the East may have been necessary but it may not have been wise. I would submit that Western Europe would have been much better buyers of Russian hydrocarbons versus the Chinese. Why destroy relationships with the West in favor of contracts with an infamously famous, deceitful partner?

In any event, the possibility exists for a detente with Russia via the Trump presidency. The time is ripe for a deal in East Ukraine and Syria that includes sanctions relief for Moscow and a reproach with Western capitals.

The American economy is on fire and is only getting started. China cannot continue to grow without cheap access to the American market. Trump knows this.

The high-single-digit grower of the next decade will be America, not Asia. The American economy is deep and resilient, China’s is not. It is a house of cards, dependent on ripping off the U.S. by cheating on trade agreements.

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All of a sudden, we are in a trade war, one that China will have a hard time winning. Trump will be in office for six more years. The roaring economy almost guarantees that.

With the Russian population rising up in open revolt over pension reform pushed by the Kremlin, the time is ripe for Moscow to relieve pressure on its economy and make a deal with Trump. America should be open to such a scenario.

Of course, many in Russia and America will try to torpedo such developments. However, the effort should still be made.

This would be good for peace, for economic growth, and for both country’s national security in the face of Chinese opportunism.

Originally posted at The Washington Times

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