Prof. ST Hsieh
Director, US-China Energy Industry Forum
January 29, 2022
Ukraine border tension is high, but a war does not seem to be imminent anymore. The world energy market can take a breather. Temporary down grade of this crisis has many reasons, and some factors are remote from the Ukraine border.
- China is the most critical competitor for the US. President Biden has promised to manage the US-China relation much better than former President Trump. But so far, the Biden Administration has not revealed a China Strategy. Now is the Chinese New Year Holiday Season and on February 4, 2022, China will host the Winter Olympics till the 20th of February. It is very unlikely that anyone would like to start a major war and rain on a global party.
- President Putin will attend the Winter Olympic, along with 30 some Head of States around the world. It is natural that President Xi and President Putin will take the opportunity to discuss/assess the global affairs, of course Ukraine will be high on the list. In fact, the US-China-Russia relation will be analyzed. Unfortunately, the US will not have any senior official attending the Game thus it will miss an opportunity for any sideline consultation with China on Ukraine Crisis.
- It is amazing that there were news accounts that somehow China is directly involved in the US-Russia Ukraine conflict. The following report from the Global Times detailed the issues of concern. The wordings are very strong or unexpected.
Chinese FM debunks US media report claiming Beijing requested Moscow not to invade Ukraine during Winter Olympics By Global Times Published: Jan 24, 2022 12:39
Chinese Foreign Ministry on Monday refuted a Bloomberg report which claimed that the Chinese leader allegedly asked Russian President Vladimir Putin not to invade Ukraine during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games. The ministry said that the news is fake, noting it’s not only a slander and provocation to China-Russia relations but also interference with and sabotage against the Olympics.
Zhao Lijian, spokesperson of the Foreign Ministry, said at a routine press conference on Monday that such a despicable trick will not deceive the international community.
“I want to stress that today’s China-Russia relations are mature, stable and resilient. The two sides have maintained close communication at all levels. Any attempt to drive a wedge between the two countries or challenge mutual trust is futile,” Zhao said.
As supporters and practitioners of the Olympic spirit, the two countries have always opposed the politicization of sports and will not be influenced by certain international forces, Zhao noted.
“We are now in the final stage of preparations for the Beijing Winter Olympic Games. We are confident of presenting a streamlined, safe and splendid Olympic Games to the world, and ensure a smooth and successful visit to Beijing by all leaders, including President Putin,” Zhao stressed.
Earlier, the Chinese Embassy in Russia refuted the Bloomberg report. The embassy said in a statement sent to Russian media outlet TASS on Saturday that the news “is a hoax and provocation.” The embassy noted that China’s position on the Ukrainian issue is consistent and clear.
The embassy reiterated that China supports a proper settlement over the Ukraine issue through dialogue and consultation within the framework of the Minsk Agreement.
According to Russian media, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova debunked the fake news and called it “a special information operation by US respective agencies.”
- Another issue that the Ukraine border crisis somehow has another China factor is about Taiwan. The issue is that the US supports Taiwan to confront China with military equipment so there is another crisis cross the Taiwan strait, much like the Ukraine case. It is not news, but along with the Ukraine crisis, the critical question now is whether the US still has the military capacity fighting two wars simultaneously in Asia and Europe? It is an important issue, but the real issue for the US is that does the US have the resolve to fight any foreign war now? Giving the fact that the US faces unprecedent domestic challenges and the US just withdrew from Afghanistan last August, after 20 years and trillions dollars?
- Either in Europe or in Asia, the US would not fight against Russia or China alone. Then US allies’ position on starting a war is critical. Rather the risk is that US and her allies will face a Russia-China joint alliance: it means a real global war with no bars hold.
Conclusion: If our analysis is valid, there would be no major flare ups in Ukraine or in the Taiwan straits before February 20, 2022, at least. There is time for Biden and Putin to find a peaceful resolution about Ukraine’s future allowing the people of Ukraine make the decision for their future.
On March 20, 2022, Spring season comes and energy demand for heating will decrease, it is time to focus on climate change and fuel transition. If and only if, the global COVID-19 pandemic would be under control then.