GOOD MORNING FROM LONDON
Earthquakes occur along fault lines, cracks in the Earth’s crust where tectonic plates meet. They occur where plates are spreading, slipping, or colliding. As the plates grind together, they get stuck and pressure builds up. Eventually the pressure between the plates is so great that they break loose.
Have political cracks in the Earth’s crust reached a breaking point? Are the political plates about to collide? Is the political pressure on the plates so great that they may be about to break loose?
As Gideon Rachman notes in todays FT, “Russia and China share a deep hostility to America’s world power”. But the two countries have approached the rivalry with the US in different ways. China knows that its growing economic might will change the balance of power to China’s advantage. Russia is not so economically powerful and its invasion of Ukraine – whatever its intent + purpose – could create an unintended disruption of China’s long game.
All is “ifs” and “buts”, but if Russia’s offensive becomes mired in the mud, a revived US led Western alliance may rely on a new weaponry of economic sanctions against China to bring the country of 1.4bn down a few steps on the ladder. Every action has a consequence and in Washington and Beijing options are being carefully weighed.
China has always been concerned about the “Malaccas Dilemma” where the US, – drawing on President Nasser’s 1956 closure of the Suez Canal – might impose a blockade on key shipping routes to China’s main ports. Additionally, there is always the possibility that the US would freeze China’s foreign reserves
These are uncertain times. National ego can get in the way of rational judgment. Mistakes can be made + irreversible blunders can occur. This is the time for cool heads. Biden, Putin, Zelensky and Xi have to take into account the national interests and the international options. For myself, I am pleased that Xi is in charge in Beijing.
NEXT POST – 16 MARCH 2022.
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