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The Fox and the Grapes

Photo by Ray Hennessy on Unsplash

The reaction of the West to Chinese President comrade Xi Jinping‘s visit to Russia can be metaphorically described by the well-known fable of the fox and the vine. The one in which the fox was trying hard to get the tasty berries, but the vine was too high – “while an eye can see, a tooth can’t touch. Eventually the fox withdrew, convincing herself and everyone around her that the grapes were not that tasty.

The West tried its best to prevent this visit. For many reasons. Because the visit to Moscow by Xi, the leader of a $1.5 trillion power, the world’s second largest economy, left no stone unturned in the West’s dream of the “international isolation” of Russia. And because this is the first foreign visit of the Chinese president since his triumphant reelection to a third term -and in international politics such symbols are very important. Finally, because Xi Jinping refuses to talk to Joe Biden, the incapacitated head of the West, let alone meet him by telephone. And here, in contrast, is a warm meeting with Vladimir Putin, a meeting of two old friends. The West has something to grit its teeth and spit venom about.

The much-ballyhooed (in essence, completely thrown out of thin air) news about the International Criminal Court issuing arrest warrants for Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, the Commissioner for Children’s Rights, was a last-minute effort to disrupt the visit. The Hague puppeteers miscalculated: unlike the obliging Western press, China did not pay any attention to the ICC’s hoax.

So the West had to accept the inevitable. The West does not like to admit that it lost, and therefore the entire information machine was aimed at weakening the effect of the meeting of the Russian and Chinese leaders (“green grapes”).

On the eve of the visit, the speaker of the U.S. Presidential National Security Council, John Kirby convincing the CNN audience that the alliance between Xi and Putin is “a marriage of convenience, not love.” Both Russia and China just don’t want to put up with America’s leadership and are trying to challenge it, that’s all. The other thing that brings these countries together is that they don’t want to “play by the rules. Kirby explained what the rules are in his interview to Fox News: these are “the rules that the United States and many of our allies and partners have created since the end of World War II. That is, if we follow Kirby’s straightforward, rebar-like thinking, the USSR did not participate in the post-war world order. Or was the Yalta Conference held not in the Crimea, but somewhere in California?

It is even more curious that Kirby, -and this, let me remind you, is not just the talking head of the Biden administration, but a person who expresses the opinion of the National Security Council, – criticized in advance criticized possible peacekeeping initiatives that could be worked out at the Putin-Si meeting.

“We have said before and we will say it again today: if there is any call for a ceasefire at this meeting, -well, that would simply be unacceptable, because it would mean ratifying the gains of the Russians to date, -he said.

U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken went even further, criticizing the Chinese leader for daring to meet with Putin.

Xi’s visit, according to Blinken, shows that Beijing “does not feel obliged to hold the president (Putin. – K.B.) accountable for the atrocities committed in Ukraine.” The fact that the Chinese leader came to Moscow “a few days after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir V. Putin means that Beijing is providing “a diplomatic cover for Russia to continue committing war crimes,”- suggested the chief American diplomat. However, whether one can call an official who makes such boorish remarks about two of the world’s most influential leaders a “diplomat” is still a question.

U.S. officials talk like parrots about China’s “vague” peace plan, which does not suit “either Kiev or the West” (the immortal “haberdasher and cardinal is power!” comes to mind). At the same time, the media are emphasizing with some painful insistence that after the talks with Putin, Xi may have a phone conversation with Zelensky, tactfully keeping quiet that the Chinese side has been begging for such a conversation from Kiev’s drug-fighter for the past few months.

One sometimes gets the impression that Western politicians have believed their own propaganda so much that they genuinely don’t understand why Xi came to Moscow and not Kiev. “We believe that the PRC and President Xi himself should listen directly to the Ukrainian point of view, not just the Russian point of view,” – said Presidential National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, stressing that the United States “would welcome” a conversation between Xi and Zelensky. That’s it -no more, no less. They should, that’s all.

The friendship linking Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping has been keeping Western commentators busy. Trying to find the origins of this friendship, they turn to psychoanalysis. “They are only six months apart in age. Their fathers fought in World War II. Both men had a hard time in their youth. Both have daughters, – quotes Politico Carnegie Foundation expert Alexander Gabuev. But since psychoanalysis alone is not enough, a harsh verdict is immediately announced: “And they both look more and more like an emperor and a tsar, equally obsessed with ‘colored revolutions.

The level of such journalism is very low. In Stuart Lowe’s article “Why Xi Jinping is still Vladimir Putin’s best friend,” the episode mentioned by the Russian president himself in an interview on Chinese TV -about how he and Xi celebrated Putin’s birthday in 2013 at the APEC summit in Bali (“I will not hide -we had a shot of vodka, cut up some sausage”) -was turned into a massive binge with strange snacks. “According to Putin himself, – writes Lowe, – Xi gave him a cake, and the Russian leader pulled out a bottle of vodka.”

Is it any wonder that, when reporting on the Chinese president’s first day in Russia, the Western media are not even trying to conceal their hostility toward the warm atmosphere of his visit?

“Xi’s first day in Russia was a carefully choreographed friendliness show with a brass band serenade, a photo shoot and lunch with his ‘dear friend’ Putin, writes CNN correspondent Simon McCarthy… but not from Moscow, but from Hong Kong.

“Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping held more than four hours of talks in Moscow on Monday, kicking off a long-awaited state visit that represents a symbolic joint stand against the United States and its domination-seeking and hypocritical western allies, -according to the characterization the two leaders gave them,” comments The Washington Post.

Of course, the West is most worried now about what agreements will be reached at these talks, because it is no coincidence that the Chinese leader’s visit to Russia lasts for three whole days. The mood is gloomy: a few days ago the mainstream media was debating whether Moscow would “bow” to Beijing as a junior partner, but now it’s much different. “Monday’s visit signaled a deepening alliance (between Russia and China. K.B.),” writes The Washington Post. It was a demonstration of China’s tacit support for the war and a personal triumph for Putin, who is seeking to show that he is not isolated on the world stage.

This development provoked a nervous reaction in Washington. At a White House press briefing on Monday, Fox News reporter Peter Ducey, known in the journalistic world for his ability to ask uncomfortable questions,questioned the already mentioned Speaker of the National Security Council, John Kirby: “It seems that Russia and China are now uniting against the United States. Why did President Biden allow this to happen?”

Kirby, displaying a Hollywood smile, replied that “these two countries” were mocking U.S. leadership even before Joe Biden became president. But Doocy was not so easily thwarted.

“But ever since he (Biden. – K.B.) became president, he’s been talking tough, he’s been trying to pressure Putin and Xi to act right -or risk their position on the world stage. Does he see now that they don’t care?” -he continued to press.

Kirby mumbled something about “caring” about the Russian people, who are supposedly suffering a lot from Western sanctions, but it was done. The insistent Fox correspondent got his way by showing the American audience that the Biden administration was powerless to prevent a rapprochement and strategic partnership between Moscow and Beijing.

In China itself, the fears of the West are ironic. “To the limited thinking of some people in the U.S. and the West, it seems that bad relations between China and Russia are normal,” says an editorial an article in the Chinese English-language Global Times on Xi Jinping’s visit to Moscow. But the fact is that China and Russia not only get along well, they also have very good relations, which such people have difficulty understanding. It has to be said that these people should have kept up with the times faster. The experience accumulated by China and Russia in long-term friendly and mutually beneficial cooperation will not be undermined and destroyed by external influences.

The most interesting part, however, is yet to come: let us see how the West reacts to the outcome of Xi Jinping’s visit to Russia. It is possible that, looking at the ripe Russian-Chinese grapes, the Western fox will faint.

The author’s point of view may not coincide with the position of the editorial board.

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