No matter how often he may bow, flatter and appease, all of these seemingly peaceful overtures matter little in foreign affairs. Prof.Barry Rubin explains why. KGS
By Barry Rubin
December 3, 2009
China is very much motivated toward development rather than ideology or geopolitical ambition. It wants to get along with everyone as much as possible and make lots of money. (Quite a change from the days of the Little Red Book and the Cultural Revolution!). So they are ready to sell arms to everyone. They are all over Africa especially doing deals with anyone who can pay.
To get cash, the Chinese will do anything. For example, they have allowed secret flights from North Korea to Iran carrying weapons and nuclear technology. When U.S. forces arrived in Iraq, they found that China had sold Saddam advanced anti-aircraft guns.
They believe they have two big vulnerabilities. One is fear of being isolated, as happened during much of the Cold War. Whenever anyone speaks of sanctions and pressures, the Chinese think: What if this would be used against us some day. So they tend to be against such things everywhere (Yugoslavia, Iran). Since they want to make money selling to these countries that’s another reason to reject sanctions (and cheat when possible on them).
The even bigger vulnerability is China’s vast need for oil and gas. They don’ want to alienate any of the suppliers and they don’t like the idea of a crisis disrupting the supply. So they like trading with Israel because it has useful hi-tech and other such products and with the Arabs to buy oil and gas, and sell items to them.
Finally, they are very much against all the climate control proposals because these would hurt them and slow down their development. (And they can, after all, say: you in the West became rich through pollution and now you want to force us to give up advancing as fast as we can?)
Russia is quite different in political terms but also is desperate for money. Its current regime has lots of ambitions and a big chip on its shoulder. Whether it’s true or not, they are angry that the West-and especially the United States-didn’t do more to help them after Communism. They also feel as if they are weak and way behind. When I was in Moscow I saw shops from every Western country selling luxury goods but nothing indigenously Russian. Putin wants to make Russia a great power, to regain parts of the Soviet empire and to have influence over much of the rest of the former USSR and satellite states.
In particular, Putin and the regime want to sabotage U.S. policy. They are more openly contemptuous of President Obama than virtually any other country in the world (and that includes Iran). In Europe, they want to keep the U.S. and NATO over the areas they formerly control. Russian companies are buying up resources in those countries wherever they can. Russia has attacked Georgia and is menacing a lot of other ex-victims, who are scared and doubtful they can depend on the United States right now.