by Jeff J. Brown for The Saker Blog Crosslinked with:
Looking back at the rocky, mutually suspecting and disrespecting relations between Russia’s and China’s leaders, 1917-2000, this photo speaks volumes about the depth of Putin’s and Xi’s mutual friendship and the importance of Sino-Russian cooperation on the world stage, highlighted at last week’s SCO summit in Qingdao. They are brothers, amigos, and trusted partners on the world scene. We can all shudder in fear about what the 21st century would be like, without their committed and commanding presence.
During China’s post-Russian revolution period, 1917-1949, China’s relationship with Russia was decidedly lopsided. Vladimir Lenin did what seemed to be the impossible, overturning an imperial government into communist one, and not just in a small country, but one of the biggest and most important on the world scene.
After nearly a century of groveling humiliation at the feet of Eurangloland’s opium- and slave-fueled capitalist empire, and after being betrayed and kicked in the teeth by these same colonial powers in 1919’s post-World War I Versailles Treaty, future Chinese leaders, such as Deng Xiaoping, Zhou Enlai and Marshal Zhu De were in Europe – France mainly – being good subordinate students learning all about Marxism and Leninism.
China’s junior role as acolytes to the Soviet Union and Joseph Stalin’s urban-industrial Marxist-Leninist economy continued after Mao Zedong and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) equally shocked the world, by assuming communist power in the most populous and historically, one of the most powerful and important countries on the planet. However, Mao was a thorn in Stalin’s side from day one, as the future chairman saw what nobody else could envision – including most of his Chinese comrades – that China’s communist revolution had to swell up among the uneducated rural peasantry, and not among the industrialized urban proletariat. Thus, Maoism was born to join the socialist pantheon of Marxism-Leninism-Stalinism, and as we all now know, Mao knew what he was talking about, in spite of all the derision raining down on him from Moscow.
Thus, it was inevitable that there would be a cataclysmic divorce between the USSR and China. It came in 1960, with Soviet Nikita Khrushchev’s perfidious betrayal of Russia’s most popular leader, Stalin, in his infamous speech (https://mobile.nytimes.com/1971/01/25/archives/british-experts-doubt-authenticity-of-khrushchev-remembers.html). As Deng Xiaoping said years later, China will never do to Mao what Russia did to Stalin. That stab in the back of greatness was beyond the pale for the Communist Party of China (CPC). You don’t throw out the baby with the bath water. Real, meaningful revolutions are inherently messy, violent and often chaotic. Mistakes will be made. You don’t take tremendous wealth from a handful of elites and distribute it to the masses without blowback from within and without. Such is life.
This was Russia’s second Great Schism, the first being in 1054, with Eastern Christians and Constantinople’s Orthodox Church renouncing control of Rome’s Catholic Pope. Looking back, they both changed history for all parties concerned – and the world. Every day we wake up, we are dealing with their consequences.
US President Richard Nixon brilliantly used this Sino-Soviet mistrust to get China to join the US in destroying the Soviet Union. China and Russia working together to convincingly defeat Western empire in Korea, 1950-1953 and later in Vietnam and Southeast Asia, became a nostalgic memory. Starting in the 1970s, China became a potent anti-Soviet ally for Uncle Sam. Unlike the CPC, the Soviet Communist Party did not adapt and evolve fast enough to the rapidly changing geo-economic tides of the 20th century, and we all know what happened. Even though Soviets voted overwhelmingly in a referendum to keep the Union together (https://www.reddit.com/r/MapPorn/comments/2gxmng/results_of_1991_referendum_to_preserve_the_soviet/), Western capitalism did what it does best, raping and plundering the former Soviet Union, thus turning its members into failed, gangster “shock doctrine” hellholes, starting in 1990. I can assure you that what happened in post-Berlin-Wall Russia got China’s habit of tinkering being pushed into overdrive. Along with the CIA’s nearly successful color revolution in 1989’s Tiananmen Square (http://chinarising.puntopress.com/2018/06/03/tall-tiananmen-tales-and-the-little-red-pill-a-china-rising-radio-sinoland-classic-for-this-june-4th-180604/), the CPC continued to adapt and evolve within its already successful, post-liberation Marxist-Leninist-Maoist social, economic and political framework, which is continuing today, having added Xi Thought. You can expect the CPC and its dawn of the Red Dynasty to continue into the 22nd century (http://chinarising.puntopress.com/2017/05/19/the-china-trilogy/).
The world then watched in awe, and for Eurangloland, in white-knuckled dread, as Vladimir Putin repeated for post-communist Russia what Mao did for post-imperial China. They both created big, economically, technologically and geopolitically powerful countries that relish being independent and standing up to Western imperialism. In the eyes of Baba Beijing, Putin is everything that Khrushchev could have and should have been. Unfortunately for humanity, this Asian alignment did not happen for another forty years and the dawn of the 21st century. Don’t look now, but that would be Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. Better late than never.
I know I just spent 750 words expounding on what may seem like frivolous background information. However, going back a thousand years on humanity’s timeline really puts into proper perspective what has been happening between the West, Russia and China, especially since the year 2000, when Putin first became president and then 2013, when Xi was elected to China’s top post.
Stalin disdained Mao and the CPC as radishes, for being red on the outside, fake white socialists on the inside (http://chinarising.puntopress.com/2017/05/13/so-called-communist-china-by-jeff-j-brown-in-the-all-china-review/), and Khrushchev was completely outclassed by Mao’s bold and visionary leadership. Not the case with Putin and Xi. They genuinely like and respect each other. They know they are equals, they are both working tirelessly for the betterment of their countrymen, nations and the world at large.
Before the very successful SCO summit last week in Qingdao, Xi announced to the world that Putin is “his best and most intimate friend”, a bold statement coming from a leader in a culture that is almost always uber-diplomatic. He said this while putting around Putin’s neck a big gold Medal of Friendship. From the looks of it, a good sized ingot of gold went into hand crafting it, an appropriate gesture between the world’s two largest global gold mining countries (http://chinarising.puntopress.com/2017/09/24/baba-beijing-and-big-bear-smack-down-uncle-sam-in-iran-and-venezuela-china-rising-radio-sinoland-170924/). This is purportedly the first medal of friendship given out by China to a foreign dignitary, at least at the presidential level (http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1106164.shtml). The ambiance was one of we’re in this together (https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/putin-xi-jinping-china-russia-latest-shanghai-cooperation-organisation-summit-india-pakistan-iran-a8389856.html).
In amiable reciprocity, Putin announced to humanity that Xi was the only outsider with whom he celebrated his birthday, knocking back shots of vodka and eating sliced (Russian) sausages, while calling Xi accessible, sincere and reliable (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0oIQR419oPo). Take six minutes to watch the following excellent report on Putin’s visit to China and his flourishing friendship with Xi. The subtitles in English are professionally done (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQaWQ2Avxjk).
Was any symbolic gesture left out? Xi and Putin dropped the puck together at a junior Sino-Russian ice hockey match. Signs were waving in both Russian and Chinese. Children were everywhere in the arena. You can see that these leaders are really in their element and having a good time. Knowing Russian and Chinese ice hockey talent, I hope the Russian juniors did not kill the Chinese side too badly!
Next, gifts were exchanged. A Russian banya bathhouse made out of Altai cedar was given to Xi. Putin joked he wished he had one. Putin was presented with an ancient Chinese harp, called a guqin and a traditional Chinese figurine clay statue of Putin standing and gazing optimistically into the future. The two presidents noshed on Chinese veggie ‘n egg crepes and meat filled dumplings, which balanced out the vodka shots and Russian sausage to celebrate Putin’s birthday.
Later, there was the gorgeous, all-woman honor guard for Putin’s arrival at the Great Hall of the People, facing Tiananmen Square. Again, adoring children were on hand to greet him and hear together the military band play one of Russia’s iconic songs, Katyusha. About the only thing that wasn’t done was having Xi’s wife, Peng Liyuan sing it for Putin, since she can belt Slavic folk songs like a native,
The Russian press had front row seats for the whole SCO-Xi-Putin spectacle. Apparently, CNN and BBC did not.
Boatloads of deals were signed in energy, nuclear, hydrocarbons, space, airplanes, technology and finance
(http://en.people.cn/n3/2018/0609/c90000-9469191.html). Putin wore the white hat telling everybody about all the good things happening between the Russian and Chinese peoples, while Xi sported the black hat, obliquely criticizing the West for all of its illegal sanctions, blockades and America breaking numerous global treaties, while plugging the integration of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Russia’s Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).
After Xi gave Putin China’s Medal of Friendship, you can see on the Russian president’s face that he is sincerely moved. The ceremony had all the pomp and circumstance of a royal wedding. Onto a ride in a highspeed train (HST) sharing tea (probably both Russian and Chinese), where – of course – Putin and Xi watched their two mutual HST mavens sign a bilateral cooperation and investment agreement.
Carefully observe their faces during this clip. Putin and Xi sincerely like each other’s company and have gained each other’s respect and admiration, sharing a common vision for all of humanity.
It’s not only Xi Jinping, but Chinese people love Putin and Russian people too. No two countries sacrificed so much and so many of their citizens to defeat Western and Japanese fascism, to gain victory in World War II (http://chinarising.puntopress.com/2015/09/04/from-may-9th-in-moscow-to-september-3rd-in-beijing-the-anti-west-order-comes-full-circle-moscow-beijing-express-on-the-saker-44-days-radio-sinoland/). The Chinese see in Putin a dedicated, patriotic leader for his citizens, just as they know this is true for Xi at home (http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1106087.shtml). Ten million Chinese participated in an online poll, overwhelming tipping their hat to the Russian president for being wise and iron-fisted, while calling him Prince Charming and a super online sensation, for riding a horse sans shirt. President Xi looks good in military uniform. He is a bona fide officer in the PLA and head of the world’s biggest armed forces, but flexing his stuff with a bare torso is something he would never do. So, the Chinese love Putin for this difference.
Selected comments from the survey tell a story,
Putin is a great statesman who has revived the Russian people’s hopes and faith after the disintegration of the Soviet Union.
Chinese people’s friendly attitude toward Putin is related to the shared disgust of the arrogance of the West, because the West uses very similar measures to lecture and provoke both China and Russia. Putin has become an unyielding and tough political icon in resisting Western hegemony.
We like Putin, because the Western world is in awe of him.
Looking at quote number two above, Westerners are ignorant of the fact that yes, half the Chinese love Deng Xiaoping and his socialist market reforms (mostly urbanites), but 1.3 out of 1.4 billion citizens here continue to hold Mao Zedong’s world view about Western empire and global capitalism. Mao’s prescient, bullseye geopolitical stance is slowly catching on around the planet, as colonialism’s lies, expropriation and exploitation are being more and more exposed. It’s just that the Chinese have been way ahead of the curve, since communist liberation in 1949. Thus, the Chinese have all the more reason to admire Putin, as he seems to hold Mao’s global view as well.
Last night, my wife and I went to watch the France-Australia World Cup match in an open-air venue in Shenzhen. A young lady next to us introduced herself, Anna, a Russian, working for an English finance firm. We commiserated with each other about how awful the West treats the rest of the world (http://chinarising.puntopress.com/2018/01/06/slavs-and-the-yellow-peril-are-niggers-brutes-and-beasts-in-the-eyes-of-western-empire-china-rising-radio-sinoland/). She nodded in agreement when I talked about my 1,000-year view on Russian and Western relations.
Every time I talk with Russians about the West, they can be fervent capitalists who adore the United States. Usually, these are the ones who have emigrated to the West and like to thumb their noses at their motherland. Those living and working in Russia are usually calm and reserved when talking about geopolitics and history. When I told Anna that I love Russia, the Russian people and Vladimir Putin, she replied rather defeatedly and sardonically, “Oh, you’re the first one”. Russians in Russia seem resigned to be persecuted, misunderstood and unappreciated by the rest of the world. Nothing has changed for a millennium.
Well, Anna, take heart my dear, because there are 1,400,000,000 Chinese who love your people, your country and your leader. You can add to that one Franco-American. I’ll be rooting for both teams, when Russia and France play the World Cup… What am I going to do if they go head to head?
We of course have to close out this piece with a faithful rendition of Katyusha;