Biden, Don’t Trust China With American Intelligence on Russia

Commentary When President Joe Biden came to Xi Jinping with American intelligence about an upcoming Russian invasion of Ukraine, begging Xi to do something about it, Xi must have thought Biden pretty naive. First, Xi almost certainly knew and approved Vladimir Putin’s horrific plan in advance. Putin needed a buyer of last resort for the sanctions he knew were coming, so he had to get guarantees from Xi first. Second, even if Xi didn’t know, he would have approved. The Russian invasion, including war crimes like attacks on civilian apartments and power stations in Kyiv, take the spotlight off Beijing’s own human rights abuse and territorial aggression. Third, Russia’s invasion is turning it into a pariah state. The sanctions that resulted are forcing it into China’s arms, just as with the coups in Burma (Myanmar) in 2021 and Thailand in 2014. China is playing the democracies, and their sanctions, like a fiddle. Xi must have had a good laugh, when he got off the Biden video call. (If Xi does in fact ever laugh, which is unclear. Perhaps he just smirked.) That would have been right before Xi called up his good buddy Putin and told him all about the American intelligence that Biden was sharing. That kind of double-cross builds trust between thieves, but lasts about as long as required for one of them to get their hands on the loot. The New York Times first reported the Biden administration’s good-hearted but fumbling intelligence shares, on Feb. 25. They occurred over the course of three months and half a dozen meetings with the Chinese ambassador, foreign minister, and finally Xi himself. The idea to share the intelligence must have come when the more dovish in the administration thought, “Aha! This will really be the issue on which we can finally cooperate with the Chinese Communist Party! The CCP isn’t cooperating on the climate, trade, human rights, democracy, health, nonproliferation, or terrorism. But, hey, maybe a Russian invasion is the golden ticket!” Instead, the administration just got stabbed in the back. The Chinese officials who spoke with Biden officials initially claimed that they did not think an invasion was really going to happen. That turned out to be a lie when the administration got intelligence that not only did the Chinese know about the plans, but they informed the Russians that they would not oppose them. According to Edward Wong at the Times, “After one diplomatic exchange in December, U.S. officials got intelligence showing Beijing had shared the information with Moscow, telling the Russians that the United States was trying to sow discord—and that China would not try to impede Russian plans and actions, the officials said.” That must have really hurt. Biden was trusting Xi to do the right thing and Xi did the opposite. The administration must have felt like fools. They are in fact fools, because Xi and Putin are clearly on the same side of the Ukraine issue. On Feb. 4, the two signed a strategic statement that referred to a partnership between the countries that had “no limits” and no “forbidden” areas of cooperation. In the document, both took a stand against NATO expansion, and for “their core interests, state sovereignty and territorial integrity.” This is an affirmation, without saying so explicitly, of Russia’s claim to Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Beijing on Feb. 4, 2022. (Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images) In turn, the Russian side explicitly supported the “one China” principle, and “that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China, and opposes any forms of independence of Taiwan.” The mutual recognition by the two dictators of their territorial claims over “their common adjacent regions” set Putin up in a de facto alliance for the support of his Ukraine invasion. Both Ukraine and Taiwan are territories, they believe, that once belonged to their respective countries. Both would like to join Western alliance systems. Both could go nuclear in order to defend themselves. While Xi has talked a lot about invading Taiwan, Putin tries to retain the element of surprise. This worked for Putin in the invasion of Crimea and Donbass in 2014. It didn’t work so well more recently. Xi nevertheless doubled down for Russia. After the invasion, Beijing explicitly supported Russia’s “legitimate security concerns” and the “sovereignty and territorial integrity” of all countries. In the context of the Ukraine invasion, most Westerners might read that latter point as supportive of Ukraine. But Putin claims Ukraine as a part of Russia. So he can read Xi’s slyly-worded points as entirely supportive of Russia’s own territorial integrity, which includes all of “the Ukraine.” Xi knows this, and to underline his support for Russia’s war, China’s foreign ministry regularly blames the United States, defense assistance to Ukraine, “hyping up the possibility of warfare,” and NATO expansion. Putin is off the hook, according to

Biden, Don’t Trust China With American Intelligence on Russia

Commentary

When President Joe Biden came to Xi Jinping with American intelligence about an upcoming Russian invasion of Ukraine, begging Xi to do something about it, Xi must have thought Biden pretty naive.

First, Xi almost certainly knew and approved Vladimir Putin’s horrific plan in advance. Putin needed a buyer of last resort for the sanctions he knew were coming, so he had to get guarantees from Xi first.

Second, even if Xi didn’t know, he would have approved. The Russian invasion, including war crimes like attacks on civilian apartments and power stations in Kyiv, take the spotlight off Beijing’s own human rights abuse and territorial aggression.

Third, Russia’s invasion is turning it into a pariah state. The sanctions that resulted are forcing it into China’s arms, just as with the coups in Burma (Myanmar) in 2021 and Thailand in 2014. China is playing the democracies, and their sanctions, like a fiddle.

Xi must have had a good laugh, when he got off the Biden video call. (If Xi does in fact ever laugh, which is unclear. Perhaps he just smirked.)

That would have been right before Xi called up his good buddy Putin and told him all about the American intelligence that Biden was sharing. That kind of double-cross builds trust between thieves, but lasts about as long as required for one of them to get their hands on the loot.

The New York Times first reported the Biden administration’s good-hearted but fumbling intelligence shares, on Feb. 25. They occurred over the course of three months and half a dozen meetings with the Chinese ambassador, foreign minister, and finally Xi himself.

The idea to share the intelligence must have come when the more dovish in the administration thought, “Aha! This will really be the issue on which we can finally cooperate with the Chinese Communist Party! The CCP isn’t cooperating on the climate, trade, human rights, democracy, health, nonproliferation, or terrorism. But, hey, maybe a Russian invasion is the golden ticket!”

Instead, the administration just got stabbed in the back.

The Chinese officials who spoke with Biden officials initially claimed that they did not think an invasion was really going to happen.

That turned out to be a lie when the administration got intelligence that not only did the Chinese know about the plans, but they informed the Russians that they would not oppose them.

According to Edward Wong at the Times, “After one diplomatic exchange in December, U.S. officials got intelligence showing Beijing had shared the information with Moscow, telling the Russians that the United States was trying to sow discord—and that China would not try to impede Russian plans and actions, the officials said.”

That must have really hurt. Biden was trusting Xi to do the right thing and Xi did the opposite. The administration must have felt like fools.

They are in fact fools, because Xi and Putin are clearly on the same side of the Ukraine issue. On Feb. 4, the two signed a strategic statement that referred to a partnership between the countries that had “no limits” and no “forbidden” areas of cooperation. In the document, both took a stand against NATO expansion, and for “their core interests, state sovereignty and territorial integrity.” This is an affirmation, without saying so explicitly, of Russia’s claim to Ukraine.

Epoch Times Photo
Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Beijing on Feb. 4, 2022. (Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images)

In turn, the Russian side explicitly supported the “one China” principle, and “that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China, and opposes any forms of independence of Taiwan.”

The mutual recognition by the two dictators of their territorial claims over “their common adjacent regions” set Putin up in a de facto alliance for the support of his Ukraine invasion.

Both Ukraine and Taiwan are territories, they believe, that once belonged to their respective countries. Both would like to join Western alliance systems. Both could go nuclear in order to defend themselves.

While Xi has talked a lot about invading Taiwan, Putin tries to retain the element of surprise. This worked for Putin in the invasion of Crimea and Donbass in 2014. It didn’t work so well more recently.

Xi nevertheless doubled down for Russia. After the invasion, Beijing explicitly supported Russia’s “legitimate security concerns” and the “sovereignty and territorial integrity” of all countries.

In the context of the Ukraine invasion, most Westerners might read that latter point as supportive of Ukraine. But Putin claims Ukraine as a part of Russia. So he can read Xi’s slyly-worded points as entirely supportive of Russia’s own territorial integrity, which includes all of “the Ukraine.”

Xi knows this, and to underline his support for Russia’s war, China’s foreign ministry regularly blames the United States, defense assistance to Ukraine, “hyping up the possibility of warfare,” and NATO expansion. Putin is off the hook, according to the CCP.

Xi is leading Putin to believe, insulated as he is by the yes-men in the Kremlin’s group-think, that he will be victorious in not only Ukraine, but in keeping countries like Sweden and Finland out of NATO. Indeed, Russia’s foreign ministry spokesperson threatened these countries on Feb. 25 to stay out.

Putin is obviously biting off more of Europe than he can chew. Russia is no longer the economically powerful Soviet Union. It currently has an economy about one-tenth the size of China or Europe. Nobody respects Côte d’Ivoire with nuclear weapons, which is how Russia is now described.

Similar ideological insularity afflicts Xi, who believes that his authoritarian form of rule is superior to the messy chaos of democracy. He uses his COVID strategy as an example, locking down his entire country of 1.4 billion people to achieve low death rates. But his quasi-command economy also stifles innovation, and so China’s vaccines don’t work well. The country is still locked down, while the West is finally emerging back into normal human freedoms.

Putin and Xi are telling each other that dictatorships are more efficient, and so they can easily take territory from unallied democracies like Ukraine or Taiwan. Ukraine is hopefully in the process of disabusing them of this authoritarian illusion. Time will tell.

What should already be abundantly clear, however, is that democracies cannot trust Russia and China, who hold themselves as superior.

But there is one silver lining. Neither can Putin and Xi trust each other. At the earliest, China will snatch Russia’s own sovereignty if given the opportunity. And vice versa. That makes them weak allies. Indeed, they have not even been able to say the word.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.


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Anders Corr has a bachelor's/master's in political science from Yale University (2001) and a doctorate in government from Harvard University (2008). He is a principal at Corr Analytics Inc., publisher of the Journal of Political Risk, and has conducted extensive research in North America, Europe, and Asia. His latest books are “The Concentration of Power: Institutionalization, Hierarchy, and Hegemony” (2021) and “Great Powers, Grand Strategies: the New Game in the South China Sea" (2018).