China does not believe in Lavrov’s theory

Visibly smiling despite their masks, the foreign ministers of China and Russia greeted each other with a nudge when they met in Beijing a few days ago. Despite the apparent harmony between the two countries, they do not think in the same way and do not sing in the same tone.

Lavrov visited several countries seeking support for his country. He said now is the time to move to a multipolar world and get out of the old order.

Lavrov champions a broad and ambitious political theory on Russia’s failing war in Ukraine, describing the military campaign as the first step on the road to changing the global balance of power. Meanwhile, the Chinese have abandoned grand political theories and speak in more grounded terms. Right now, ending the ongoing war is their priority. Despite all the gestures of support, the two camps are moving in two different directions.

Does China seek to change the world order and shape the world in its image, as world powers tend to do?

It’s a mystery no one has been able to solve. However, it is clear that they don’t want to do it now, any more than they want to do it Russian style. In fact, it was Moscow, not Washington or London, that thwarted China’s ambitions to rule the world. This war, which China opposes and seeks to end quickly, has killed the idea of ​​developing a long-term alliance between Beijing and Moscow aimed at creating a multipolar world that would make the United States a distant Atlantic power.

Why? There are several reasons. China’s goal is to integrate into the global economy and reconfigure the system from within, not destroy it. It has done so in recent decades, during which the Chinese economy has grown astronomically. In 2021, the country suffered from the devastating ramifications of the pandemic, but the country’s GDP nevertheless grew by 8.1%, or $18 trillion. Allying with Russia to create a new world order would not be easy, and Beijing would have to give up all the gains it has already accrued to create a new financial and trading system.

It is hard to imagine China undermining its interests, which it has been advancing since overcoming communist Maoist ideology, allying with Russia to form a new political and economic world order aligned with the vision of the world of Lavrov, and limits the economic success it owes to its integration. in the global economic system.

China is also unlikely to abandon its trade with the United States and Europe, exposing its banks and businesses to crushing sanctions amid repeated warnings against any attempt to break Russia’s isolation. Beijing got the message during the intense 7 a.m. meeting in which National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan threatened to impose sanctions on Chinese financial institutions supporting the Russian war effort.

More than a month into the war, it is now clear that Russia will not achieve the victory it expected, adding further pressure on Chinese officials to seek a quick resolution aimed at preserving the image of an important ally. Their overall position is stronger with a strong Russia than with a defeated Russia.

Weakening Russia certainly does not advance Chinese interests, and it will strengthen the West and make it more cohesive than ever. It does not make sense for Beijing to relieve EU countries, with which it has deep and extensive exchanges, to ally itself with a power that seeks to change the world order despite its failure to win the victory. victory and his wavering war.

The other important reason is that Russia plans to transform itself into a country that operates behind a political and economic curtain, dividing the world along lines similar to those seen during the Cold War and using military force if necessary. This is a departure from the Chinese approach which seeks to impose hegemony through long-term economic expansion rather than brutal wars.

For all these reasons, despite all its gestures, smiles and words of support, China is not expected to join the Russian effort to change the face of the world, as Lavrov said.

Sharon D. Cole