Source: RT Published: 2022-04-27
Wang Wen was interviewed by Oksana Boyko from Worlds Apart, RT on 25Apr, 2022, talking about his viewpoints on Russia-Ukraine Conflict.
-Chinese scholars are not known for excessively dramatic assessments but I see more and more of them, including yourself, warning that the possibility of a major war, including a nuclear conflict, is increasing. What made you reach that conclusion?
In my opinion, the conflict is escalating. With the increase of military assistance from the United States and NATO to Ukraine, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is no longer a regional war, but is escalating into Russia's military struggle against the whole western world, especially NATO. I believe in Russia's will of the war. If Western pressure continues to increase, Russia can only be forced to use nuclear weapons. This is what I am very worried about. I also hope to resume negotiations between Russia and Ukraine and end the conflict as soon as possible. Otherwise, mankind will face a more dangerous moment.
- There’s been a lot of talk in this American administration and the previous ones about the so called Asia-Pacific pivot, Washington painfully and at times clumsily tried to extricate itself from the Middle East and Afghanistan only to be embroiled in Europe. Do you think this conflict with Russia over Ukraine is deliberate or have they essentially stumbled into it?
In my opinion, Russia was forced to launch this special military operation. Ukraine has written its accession to NATO into its constitution. If Ukraine finally join NATO, it means that Russia's security interests are under unprecedented threat. Russia's early start action is better than late start. This is an important reason why many Chinese sympathize with and support Russia. In the eyes of many Chinese, Russia has been threatened by the West for a long time and has to fight back.
- You once described Ukraine as having “the body of a strong man and the fate of a servant girl” and, as unpleasant as this may sound, it’s hard to deny it looking at how poorly Ukraine has benefited from its strategic geographic location. To some extent, it’s similar to Afghanistan whose strategic position and rich natural resources did it more harm than good. Whose fault is that?
In the theory of international relations, it is often said that "the tragedy of great powers". In fact, there are tragedies in medium-sized countries. When a medium-sized country cannot balance its relations with other big countries, it may become a dependency and victim of big countries. Ukraine's best strategic positioning should be to become a bridge between eastern and Western civilizations, not a servant girl of the United States and NATO, nor a tool for the west to suppress the East and Russia. Ukraine's positioning is wrong, which maks it the biggest loser in this conflict. I am worried that Ukraine may become the poorest and worst country in Europe.
- There is an old Chinese saying that the best war is the war not fought. Do you think this military operation, with all its grief and destruction, could have been avoided?
This military action could have been avoided, if the NATO did not continue to push the eastward expansion, or if the United States didn’t provoke regional tensions, or if Ukraine didn’t try to join NATO. However, it is clear that history cannot be repeated. Now that the tragedy has happened, the best remedy is to stop the war as soon as possible, have more humanitarian actions, save the lives of civilians who should not die and reduce unnecessary losses.
- Putin’s last visit abroad was to China for the Olympics and it was quite noteworthy because the Russian delegation arrived in the morning, had a day full of meetings and left in the evening. There must have been something important in a personal meeting to justify such a long travel for such a short period of time. Do you think the Chinese were informed about what’s coming from the Russian side?
China does not know the information that Russia would launch this special action this time. I have sought confirmation from many China officials and have come to this answer. In fact, until the day before the outbreak of the conflict, the Chinese foreign ministry still did not ask the Chinese Embassy in Ukraine to evacuate. This has proved that China does not know the truth. Of course, many Chinese people complain about this. On the other hand, we believe that Russia is an independent country and has the right to do what it thinks is right.
- Even before this military operation, Russia and China were growing closer and the last couple of months this processes has intensified. Beijing is trying to project a neutral line but by not siding explicitly with the Americans, it does undermine the position of the American hegemon. Do you think that is intentional?
China will not follow the United States to sanction Russia. In fact, 80% of the world's countries and population have not followed the west to sanction Russia. The West was isolated by the world in this sanctions against Russia. In China's view, sanctions can not solve the problem, but will only harm the interests of ordinary people. China has always opposed American hegemony, but supports the international order since World War II. In China's view, the largest country that has undermined the international order established since World War II is the United States. The United States continues to withdraw from relevant treaties, provoke war and become a global troublemaker.
- Mr Wang, in one of your articles you mentioned a curious or ominous numerical coincidence that the sum of every two digits of the starting dates of World War I (07/28/1914), World War II (09/01/1939) and the Russia-Ukraine conflict (02/24/2022) are the same, it goes down to number 5. The traditional Chinese philosophy assigned a lot of significance to numerology but I wonderhow noteworthy it’s for you personally?
My undergraduate major is history. I like to look for lessons in history that can be used for reference in the future. The coincidence of this number makes us more alert to the danger of this war. If this continues, the third world war is not impossible. Chinese tradition often teaches us that pursuing peace and preferring war will bring destruction. The United States is a country that prefers war, and Russia should also learn from this experience. The best way is still to stop the war as soon as possible.
- What is it that other countries, including China, could do to ensure our common security?
Last week President Xi put forward a new term "global security initiative" and adhered to the concept of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security. I think China's global security initiative is valuable in the context of realistic power politics. That is to adhere to the UN Charter, abandon the Cold War mentality, oppose unilateralism, and refrain from group politics and camp confrontation. China has been calling for mutual respect, adherence to dialogue and consultation to resolve differences. In the past 40 years, China has been the only major country that has not participated in waging war. Chinese wisdom is valuable.
- President Xi recently talked about humanity being placed on one ship and having to face crushing waves together. That throwing anyone over board would create problems for all. That’s a very poetic metaphor but do you think the Americans who clearly intent on sinking Russia will listen?
Yes. In the Chinese concept of security, human beings are on the same ship. Now, mankind is facing a very dangerous moment. As in my article, viruses, inflation, climate change, food shortages and wars are happening at the same time. Now, what needs to be done is to unite mankind, not just focus on the interests of their own country. In the whole universe, the earth is small; In the earth, any country is also small. Now, some countries, especially the United States, are too arrogant and often want to lead the world, but are not good at uniting others. If this continues, it will be punished by history.
- I’m aware that the Chinese don’t like the comparison of the Ukrainian situation to that of Taiwan because on Beijing’s insistence on one China policy but you know that the Biden administration did promise Taipei “its support”. In view of how Ukraine was treated by the Americans security p-wise, do you think this promise is worth anything?
Now, the United States is trying to provoke another war in Taiwan in the way of Ukraine. Some US security departments believe that in Europe, the United States uses Ukraine to balance Russia and weaken Russia and Europe.
In Asia, they think, US can also balance Chinese mainland with Taiwan and weaken China's rise through war. This idea is dangerous and selfish. The United States will sacrifice the lives of Taiwanese people again, just as it sacrificed the lives of Ukrainians. Taiwan is regarded as the agent of the US to contain the rise of the Chinese mainland. This is another political tragedy.
- Speaking about hunger, Ukraine is one of the world’s leading exporters of agricultural products and, as you wrote, more than fourteen countries are more than 25% dependent on Ukrainian wheat imports. I’m sure the Russians do feel their responsibility in minimizing the damage from their military operation for third countries but do you think it’s within their reach at this point to ensure the spring sowing season in Ukraine?
Yes, Russia's special military operations are concerned about relevant humanitarian responsibilities rather than blindly military attacks. In the view of the Chinese, this is an important reason for Russia's slow military promotion. China has also put forward a six point humanitarian initiative to protect ordinary people in Ukraine. Now, the whole world is worried that the war is superimposing with COVID-19, and a worse grain shortage will be possible.
While we are on the issue of harm to third countries from this confrontation between Russia and the West, Washington seems to believe that, in penalizing Russia, any means justify the goal. It already led to steep increases in fuel and food prices and forces many companies alter their production chains. Do you think the world is likely to swallow it or is it likely to provoke some sort of a counter action?
In fact, more and more people believe that the most selfish country is the United States. What the United States cares about most is how to defeat its opponents. As for the problem of civilian casualties in the target country or injury to a third country when defeating the opponent, America doesn't care. In Iraq and Afghanistan, we all deeply feel the cruelty of the United States. Sanctions will not solve the problem. That's why I think it's time for peace talks and an end to war.
- There are lots of talks about China and Saudi Arabia switching to yuan-denominated oil trade. If that were come to pass, wouldn’t that hurt the American standing than anything they try to achieve from subduing Russia?
Yes, there will be a very important financial change after this conflict. That is de dollarization. By excluding Russian banks from SWIFT, the United States actually regards the common wealth of human financial civilization as an external weapon, which is unfair and incorrect. Every country will think so. In the past, we trusted the dollar, but now the United States uses the dollar as a weapon. Do I need to trust dollars again? Over the years, more and more countries have abandoned the dollar. Twenty years ago, the proportion of the US dollar as a reserve currency in the international monetary system was still 77%, but now it has dropped to 58%. It will be lower in the future. In fact, the hegemony of the US dollar is coming to an end.
- To some extent, this neglect of the sanctions’ effects on third countries underscores the supremacy of western policies - the urge to penalize Russia is seen as more valid than the decency of doing no harm to others. And I hear a lot about that from my Eastern guests who suggest that one of the reasons there’s so much focus on the conflict in Ukraine is because it involves people of white skin. Do you agree with that?
Yes, if the War didn't break out in Europe, there might not be so much attention. In Africa, there are still many regional conflicts, but few are reported. In Afghanistan and Iraq, the United States still left many war legacies and wounds, but the western media did not report in time. At present, the American media still occupy the international voice, and the "Western centrism" is still the mainstream. We need to pursue greater global equality and international democratization.
- The Russians and the Chinese like to cite their relationship as a sort model of a new type of major country relationship. Putting the relationship first and treating it as a container within with various disagreements or competing interests are held. How sustainable it is in your view and can it be extended to other great powers, let’s say, China and India or even China and the United States?
As global powers, China and Russia have trusted, helped and tolerated each other. The two countries have solved their border problems and share the same position on many global issues. It should be said that China-Russia relations are a model of major country relations. Although the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has brought challenges to China-Russia relations, we are confident that China Russia relations will continue. China strives to handle relations with other countries, including China India relations and China US relations. It's very difficult, but we can't stop doing it because of the difficulty. Please believe in China's wisdom and sincerity.
- One of the expressions we hear a lot these days is assigning somebody to the right or the wrong side of history, which is a very western, I would even say a Christian concept, this stark division between good and evil. As China continues its rise to prominence, do you think it will introduce us to a more complex understanding of good and evil?
The west is overconfident. 30 years ago, the west proposed the end of history and believed that the West was the ending point of history. I don't think that's right. On the contrary, the so-called "theory of the end of history" is totally wrong. The philosophical logic of "dichotomy" of Christianity is not applicable to the present world. From the perspective of Chinese philosophy, the world is not only dichotomy, not only good and evil, but also three, four or more. China stresses Taiji, the transformation of good and evil, and the complex world. Chinese philosophy is far more civilized than American logic.