‘What will it take to stop them?’ West’s greatest challenge in curbing China and Russia

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‘What will it take to stop them?’ West’s greatest challenge in curbing China and Russia

Xi Jinping 'is watching with pleasure' says Sir Tony BrentonChina's annual parliamentary exercise — the National People's Congress (NPC) — opens to

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Xi Jinping ‘is watching with pleasure’ says Sir Tony Brenton

China’s annual parliamentary exercise — the National People’s Congress (NPC) — opens today in Beijing. It is expected to move President Xi Jinping one step closer to an unprecedented third term in power. The Communist Party leadership will lay out policies to address the county’s biggest challenges, like rebuilding growth slowed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The 3,000 deputies almost always give their support to everything proposed over the course of the session, but lawmakers will still chew on the various global crises that have beset the world, like a property slump, a war in Europe and a COVID-19 surge in Hong Kong.

While Xi generally calls the shots and has the ultimate say in China’s government, the NPC gives his and his aides’ proposals the backing of the law.

For decades, the meeting has provided the world with its best chance to see China’s leaders in action, with Premier Li Keqiang outlining key policies in a speech and conducting what is often his only news briefing of the year.

People like Professor Julian Lindley-French, an internationally recognised strategic analyst and adviser in defence, who has worked with NATO, will be watching the event closely.

China-Russia: The two countries have risen to global power status in the last 20 years

China-Russia: The two countries have risen to global power status in the last 20 years (Image: GETTY)

Xi Jinping: The Chinese president recently pictured at the Beijing Winter Olympics

Xi Jinping: The Chinese president recently pictured at the Beijing Winter Olympics (Image: GETTY)

He warns that the UK and the West must keep tabs on the likes of China and Russia as they grow and transform into global powers capable of actions unthinkable 20 years ago.

The geopolitics expert told Express.co.uk that Russia’s current invasion of Ukraine was predictable given Moscow’s activity in its near-abroad in recent years, but that the West has been too preoccupied to take notice.

Now, with the rise of what Prof Lindley-French describes as 5D warfare — disinformation, deception, and destabilisation with disruption and implied destruction — he questioned how the West might solve the new age problems of the geopolitical world.

He told Express.co.uk: “We in Britain, a leading member of NATO, have to show real leadership on this by sticking to our integrated review, by rebuilding our armed forces, by creating a new force that can repress Russia with its deterrent power.

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Vladimir Putin: The two leaders are close allies and have a common enemy in the US

Vladimir Putin: The two leaders are close allies and have a common enemy in the US (Image: GETTY)

“We must prove we can respond to their cyberattacks by making them suffer if they attack us, and exploit their vulnerabilities in a more systematic manner.

“We’ve been unbelievably naive in the last 20 years, and this is the consequence we are now facing.

“I see more of the same happening off the back of this situation.

“If it succeeds, expect more of the same; if we are coerced, expect more of the same.

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Ukraine: Kharkiv, the country's second city, has been left devastated by Russian missiles

Ukraine: Kharkiv, the country’s second city, has been left devastated by Russian missiles (Image: GETTY)

Taiwan: Beijing is known to have its eye on reunifying Taiwan with the mainland

Taiwan: Beijing is known to have its eye on reunifying Taiwan with the mainland (Image: GETTY)

“The questions our leaders need to be asking themselves is: What will it take to deter Moscow and indeed China together?

“What must the new global community of democracy do together to convince the likes of Putin and Xi Jinping that risks of this kind of aggression are simply too great to contemplate and it’s better to be a partner with the West than an adversary or indeed an enemy.

“That means thinking strategically, that means overcoming the chronic risk aversion in London and other capitals, which has led to this situation.”

Many have noted that China could hold the key to pushing Putin into peace talks with Ukraine.

New Silk Road: China has deep vested interests in maintaining good relations with the West

New Silk Road: China has deep vested interests in maintaining good relations with the West (Image: Express Newspapers)

While it shares a common enemy with Russia — the US and the West — China’s finance and trade systems are deeply intertwined with the West.

Forcing Moscow to put an end to its invasion would, as a result, be in its best interests.

While Beijing initially sat on the fence over the conflict, refusing to describe it as an invasion, it has since said it is “concerned about the damage done to civilians”.

It also now describes the situation as a “conflict”, appearing to distance itself from using Russia’s definition of a “special military operation”.

Diplomacy: Xi will likely address the unfolding war in Europe during the National People's Congress

Diplomacy: Xi will likely address the unfolding war in Europe during the National People’s Congress (Image: GETTY)

However, China has continued to call on Russia and Ukraine to strike an agreement without outside interference, and reiterated its support for Russia’s position, saying “regional security cannot be achieved by expanding military blocs” — a reference to NATO’s potential eastward expansion into Ukraine.

Despite this, Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said he “looked forward to China’s mediation efforts for the ceasefire”, suggesting that perhaps China has a role to play in the peace process.

To date, Beijing has refused to antagonise Russia, instead blaming the US and NATO for the current situation.

But it’s abstention — rather than veto — at the UN Security Council motion deploring Russia’s conduct gave many cause for optimism.



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