China is not pitching in on Putin’s war, and Biden administration pressure may be part of the reason

China is not pitching in on Putin’s war, and Biden administration pressure may be part of the reason

Despite Donald Trump’s early assurances that he beat Chiiiii-na all the time, one of his favorite pastimes as president was losing to the country—while encouraging its worst excesses. 

Trump made a big show of acting tough toward China—imposing tariffs that succeeded in punishing our own citizens far more than Xi Jinping’s—but he ultimately lost his trade war, and rather decisively at that. Of course, when it came to issues Trump wasn’t personally interested in—including humans and their silly rights—Trump was even more squishy-soft. 

As Pepperidge Farm-looking warmonger John Bolton noted in his 2020 memoir If You Buy a Book from This Piece of Shit, You’re a Fucking Asshole, So I’m Not Even Going to Link to It, Trump had exactly zero interest in defending the rights and liberties of China’s persecuted Uighur minority:

At a summit in Japan in 2019, with only interpreters present, Xi gave Trump an explanation for the Chinese camps for Uighurs, who are ethnically and culturally distinct from the country’s majority Han population and are suspected of harboring separatist tendencies, Bolton wrote.

“According to our interpreter, Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which he thought was exactly the right thing to do,” the book said.

So when it came to China, Trump bellowed and blustered a lot but achieved exactly nothing—unless you count selling out millions of vulnerable ethnic minorities as “something.”

Fast-forward three years to a more enlightened era in which a serious president is now calling the shots. Earlier this year, as Vladimir Putin was still deciding whether to invade Ukraine or cut his own balls off with Play-Doh scissors (spoiler alert: he chose poorly), Putin and Chinese President Xi got chummy at the Olympics. Later, after Putin put a gun to his own head and pulled the trigger on his “special military operation,” there was grave concern among many U.S. government officials that China was poised to materially aid Russia’s war effort.

Well, about that

U.S. officials told Reuters in recent days they remain wary about China’s long-standing support for Russia in general, but that the military and economic support that they worried about has not come to pass, at least for now. The relief comes at a pivotal time.

President Joe Biden is preparing for a trip to Asia later this month dominated by how to deal with the rise of China and his administration is soon to release his first national security strategy about the emergence of China as a great power.

According to a Biden administration official who spoke to Reuters, “We have not seen the [People’s Republic of China] provide direct military support to Russia’s war on Ukraine or engage in systematic efforts to help Russia evade our sanctions. We continue to monitor for the PRC and any other country that might provide support to Russia or otherwise evade U.S. and partner sanctions.”

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Well, that’s great news for the Ukrainian people, huh? Wonder what Trump would have done, other than withhold arms shipments to Volodymyr Zelenskyy in exchange for a saucy reach-around and a McRib.

Biden, on the other hand? He was unequivocal:

Biden himself has not spoken of China helping Russia since telling reporters in Brussels March 24 that in a phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping, he “made sure he understood the consequences.”

Hmm, a U.S. president who stands up for freedom and justice around the world. How quaint.

Of course, geopolitics is a complicated game, so who knows what the Chinese are actually motivated by? They also couldn’t have helped but notice that Putin’s invasion was a disaster from the start. That said, there’s plenty of reason to suspect U.S. pressure prompted Xi to back off from any plan to militarily aid Russia. 

“There has been consistent messaging that if China does so it will face severe consequences,” said Bonnie Glaser, an Asia expert at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. “It appears that so far, the Chinese have not. It is feasible that the Chinese planned to provide military assistance and changed their minds.”

Hmm, another big win for Biden. When will the media start to notice, I wonder?

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