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Tipsheet

A NYT Columnist Should've Read His Own Paper to Avoid Writing Embarrassing Op-eds Like This on Ukraine

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What the hell did I even read? Actually, I'm saving you time, folks. This is one of those occasions where if the columnist read his own damn paper, he could avoid rake-stepping moments like this. The New York Times' Thomas Freidman asked China which side it was on in the Russia-Ukraine war. Yeah, he asked that. It pretty much was the initial headline before the publication stealth edited it. 

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"Dear China: Whose side are you on in Ukraine" was the initial headline for his March 6 piece. The headline is now something different, but here are a few paragraphs

With every passing day, the war in Ukraine becomes a bigger tragedy for the Ukrainian people but also a bigger threat to the future of Europe and the world at large. There is only one country that might have the power to stop it now, and it’s not the United States. It’s China.

If China announced that, rather than staying neutral, it was joining the economic boycott of Russia — or even just strongly condemning its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and demanding that it withdraw — it might shake Vladimir Putin enough to stop this vicious war. At a minimum, it would give him pause, because he has no other significant ally aside from India in the world now.

Why would President Xi Jinping of China take such a stand, which would seemingly undermine his dream of seizing Taiwan the same way Putin is attempting to seize Ukraine? The short answer is that the past eight decades of relative peace among the great powers led to a rapidly globalizing world that has been the key to China’s rapid economic rise and the elevation out of poverty for some 800 million Chinese people since 1980. Peace has been very good for China. Its continued growth depends on China’s ability to export to and learn from that world of steadily integrating and modernizing free markets.

[…]

To Chinese strategists caught up in old-think — that any war that weakens modern China’s two primary rivals, America and Russia, has to be a good thing — I would say the following: Every war brings with it innovations (new ways to fight, win and survive), and the war in Ukraine is no exception.

Wait, is he serious? China can stop this war? I must laugh. You don’t even need to read the rest because the entire column is undercut by his paper’s own reporting that China, Friedman’s pick to save us all, shared classified information about the Russian build-up on the Ukrainian border with none other than Vladimir Putin. We reached out. We shared this intelligence. And China rebuffed us and shared it with Moscow:

Over three months, senior Biden administration officials held half a dozen urgent meetings with top Chinese officials in which the Americans presented intelligence showing Russia’s troop buildup around Ukraine and beseeched the Chinese to tell Russia not to invade, according to U.S. officials.

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Each time, the Chinese officials, including the foreign minister and the ambassador to the United States, rebuffed the Americans, saying they did not think an invasion was in the works. After one diplomatic exchange in December, U.S. officials got intelligence showing Beijing had shared the information with Moscow, telling the Russians that the United States was trying to sow discord — and that China would not try to impede Russian plans and actions, the officials said. 

It was a three-month circus of wasted time and effort. Yet again, Joe Biden made the wrong decision in foreign affairs, for which he has a 40-year track record. Also, that story broke on February 25. Did you even pick up a copy of The Times, Tommy? 

I'm pretty sure this move shows where Beijing rests on this whole situation. It's not going to be a savior. Also, don't China and Russia have a lucrative energy deal? Yes, they do—which they hashed out in February right before Russia invaded Ukraine (via Reuters): 

Russia has agreed a 30-year contract to supply gas to China via a new pipeline and will settle the new gas sales in euros, bolstering an energy alliance with Beijing amid Moscow's strained ties with the West over Ukraine and other issues.

Gazprom , which has a monopoly on Russian gas exports by pipeline, agreed to supply Chinese state energy major CNPC with 10 billion cubic metres of gas a year, the Russian firm and a Beijing-based industry official said.

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Beijing's silence on this whole war says it all. It knows what it's doing—and no, Tom—China's not going to "cancel" Russia. 

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