Letter to a Chinese friend

China in the war (Source: General Ba’s residence in Guilin, Guangxi)

     Dear friend,

     A few days after their national security advisers, Presidents Biden and Xi Jinping will have a discussion on 18 March and Ukraine will be on the top of the agenda. The magnitude of this war in the heart of the European continent and the global dimension it has already acquired, oblige me to address you without detours or frills.

You have known for some time now my interest in your great country and its immense civilization as well as my admiration for the efforts deployed by the Chinese people in recent decades to achieve a unmatched level of development and modernization in its long history. I have always been able to go against the tide, when necessary, in order to highlight these remarkable achievements, and it could be the same with Russia, to which I have no fundamental hostility.

But in this war of aggression by Ukraine, in the heart of a European continent that has not known anything like this since the second world war, our security, freedom and independence as Europeans are at stake.

It is clear that we observe with the greatest attention the behavior of all the players, whether it is the United States so far relatively hanging back, which has the beneficial effect of an obligation to take our own affairs in hand, of India concerned about its further development or of China aspiring to consolidate its status as a great power.

Since joining the United Nations, your country’s emergence on the international scene has sometimes seemed an endless process. Those who deplored it mainly concerned with world’s equilibrium, are quick today to reproach it for an excess of affirmation on the world stage.

The reality in the Ukrainian case, it seems to me, is somewhere in between, but this is a moment of truth that many consequences can depend on for years and even decades to come. Prudence, sometimes perceived as ambiguity, is not in itself reprehensible because it reflects, in my opinion, a systematic propensity for a necessary rationality that once made me describe your country as a “hyper-calculating power”.

The worst torments of war and the dangers that flow from them can also bring out the best. It seems to me that China, as far as it is concerned, has a unique opportunity to reveal its true identity, as it has also experienced occupation, breakup and war.

We have to rely on China to make the right choices, the effects of which will be long-term, and show the world that it is entitled exercising the greatest responsibilities that guarantee peace, global balance, the extension of its brilliant modernization, or general harmony that it claims to be its philosophy.



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