Russia Could Push China Closer To The West

Geoff Dyer reports in the Financial Times:

August 8 has already been pencilled in by some as a turning point in modern history, the day that authoritarianism stood up as a credible force for the first time since the end of the cold war. Television producers did not know where to look. On one screen Chinese drummers were launching the hi-tech opening extravaganza of the Olympics, while on another Russian tanks were filing into Georgian territory.

Each event seemed to be a snub to the idea of the inevitable advance of liberal with its re-discovered military muscle and China celebrating its mixture of dynamism and political control. Like so many big narratives, however, the story about the rise of the new authoritarians leaves out a lot of important detail. While has spent the past decade becoming more authoritarian, China has been slowly moving in the opposite direction – even if it took a lurch backwards in the run-up to the Olympics.

The story also misses how the actions of one authoritarian regime might af­fect the attitudes of the other, which is very much the case with Russia’s in­cursion into Georgia. At the start of the conflict, China was probably not too unhappy. But with Russia’s recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the at­titude is likely to shift. If Russia ramps up the pressure much further, it could actually push China closer to the US.

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