China has a historic decision to make that's as big as when Mao met Nixon – Scotsman comment

On a cold February morning in 1972, US President Richard Nixon and China’s Mao Tse-tung met in Beijing. Nothing of major significance was agreed, but the mere fact the meeting took place astonished the world.

It was, as the historian Margaret MacMillan later wrote, “an earthquake in the Cold War landscape”. Since then, relations between China and the West have thawed to such an extent that visits by leaders like French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen are relatively common.

However, China is at a crossroads just as significant, perhaps even more so, as the one in 1972. If it chooses to move closer to Russia’s Vladimir Putin, despite his war of aggression in Ukraine, and, worse, if it chooses to invade Taiwan, China will effectively be putting an end to decades of integration with the free world. The resulting damage to the global economy would be cataclysmic.

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In Beijing, Macron told Chinese leader Xi Jinping: “I know I can count on you to bring Russia to its senses, and bring everyone back to the negotiating table.” He brought with him a substantial trade delegation, perhaps to highlight the mutually beneficial deals to be done, but he also brought von der Leyen, aka the “bad cop in Brussels”.

In a recent speech, she spoke against outright “decoupling” from China as advocated by some in the US but, in a hardening of the EU position that angered Beijing, argued for “de-risking”, including steps to make the European economy less reliant on China. Nixon in China was a historic moment. Another, just as earth-shattering, for good or ill, is on the horizon.



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