“China is underwriting this war. In Ukraine.” So said a former top Trump Administration official in a private phone conversation with me over the weekend.
“Xi and Putin are joined at the hip, and it is foolhardy to believe that they can be separated,” he explained.
He likened Xi Jinping to a fascist and, at the same time, a Leninist who is intellectual leader of the emerging Putin-Xi mind meld. “He truly believes in world revolution and wants, above all else, to topple the power of the United States.” Xi is quite willing to suffer negative consequences for his country to advance his global agenda.
But he emphasized that China is extremely vulnerable to economic sanctions. Citing its dependence on foreign trade, he said that China might not be able to survive a global embargo should its policies goad the U.S. and the EU to such action.
For the moment, he urges immediate action by the U.S. and the EU to punish China economically for not opposing — and, in fact, subsidizing — Putin’s Ukraine invasion.
He hopes that the upcoming NATO meeting will lead to a resolution to take economic action against China.
“Don’t just step on China’s toes,” he advised. “Crush their toes.”
He also said:
• He said that the chances that Putin might use nuclear weapons is “not zero,” describing Putin as “obsessed with Ukraine” and implying that he has megalomania.
• He noted that Obama believed that nuclear weapons were obsolete and stripped us of our tactical nuclear weapons, limiting our ability to respond by a step-by-step escalation matching Russia’s action should Putin use such battlefield nukes in Ukraine
• But, he added, that If Putin moves, in desperation, to WMDs in the war, the US need not follow suit but would have to take on Russian troops directly. He argued that our conventional military would be quite enough to directly confront Russia “bombing the hell out of their supply lines” and, as a first step, “wiping out their army in Syria.”
• He credits the US with “good intell” about what China is doing to help Putin.
• But, above all, he emphasizes that Beijing is now the senior partner in their relationship.
I mentioned to him — and he agreed — my belief that if China invades Taiwan or even if it is directly linked to Russian attacks in Ukraine that global condemnation of Beijing would rise to such a crescendo that more direct economic action against China would be politically feasible.
I pointed out that the US economy weathered quite nicely our drastic increase of about 50% in tariffs under Trump and even suggested that we might suspend debt repayment to China, an annual flow of about $20 billion.
(China owns $1 trillion of US debt, about 4 percent of our national debt.)
With international outrage at China’s actions, the global financial community is likely to permit America to suspend its debt repayments without unduly damaging our credit rating.
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