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Does anyone want the stability that Putin and Xi are selling?
Patrick Asare -- Author of 'The Boy from Boadua' Patrick Asare -- Author of 'The Boy from Boadua'
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Wyomissing, PA
Saturday, May 18, 2024


A few things caught my eye as I was reading this article in the Wall Street Journal about Putin’s visit to China last week. Putin is quoted as saying that “he portray[s] himself and Chinese leader Xi Jinping as defenders of global stability and equality between nations.” He goes on to say that “Together [they] uphold the principles of justice and a democratic world order reflecting the multipolar realities founded in international law.”

Hearing Putin talk about democratic principles is cringe-inducing. To Xi Jinping’s credit, he never pretends to run a democracy. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) that he presides over does not allow popular voting on anything. Putin, in contrast, is the master of pretense. He holds elections, but handpicks who can run against him and manipulates the voting system to guarantee that he wins in landslides. He either jails or kills any unauthorized person who has the audacity to even think about challenging him at the ballot box.

Pretty much every country neighboring Russia and China, or lying in close proximity to them, seems scared to death. These two large grizzly bears have become increasingly belligerent. The Baltic nations, Finland, Sweden, and Poland constantly watch nervously over their shoulders to see what Putin is going to do next. It is the same story in China’s backyard. The Taiwanese cannot sleep easy nowadays because they see what is going on in Ukraine and they know that it is quite possible they will face a similar situation in the not-too-distant future. The Filipinos are being harassed in all kinds of ways by China. In recent months, the Chinese coast guard has repeatedly rammed and fired water cannons at Filipino coast guard boats in the South China Sea, which China claims dominion over. Does all this sound like stability to anyone?

It is unclear what dictionary Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping use but this appears to be their definition of stability: Everyone shut up and do what we say. We all saw what happened to Alexei Navalny when he refused to live by Putin’s rules. The regime survival package that Putin is said to be selling to dictators in Africa is meant to globalize his gangster playbook. Perhaps there are people all over the place for whom this kind of “stable world,” in which no one has a say in anything, is appealing. But for others, like Navalny, Boris Nemtsov before him, and now Vladimir Kara-Murza, that type of world is not worth living in. I have enormous respect for these courageous men who are willing to sacrifice their lives so they and others can live in freedom.

According to the WSJ article, in its attempt to justify Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, Beijing argues that ‘Russia has rights to “indivisible security,” with no other country’s security efforts threatening its own.” That claim is both laughable and shocking. And the arrogance of these two men is unbelievable. If Apple CEO Tim Cook were to point a gun at someone’s head for having the temerity to even think about buying a Samsung smartphone, would anyone try to justify Mr. Cook’s action? After all, wouldn’t that considered purchase of a rival product by that “impudent customer” threaten Apple’s profitability and ultimate survival as a going concern?

The fact is that Putin and his pal never stop to think about why so many people, including their own compatriots, don’t like the product they are selling. Because they have both come up through non-competitive political systems, they are not used to the idea of having to please their customers. The top brass at Apple Inc. know that they are not entitled to anything in life. They wake up every morning, travel to their offices, and, together with their employees, put in their best possible efforts to create products that will win hearts and minds in the marketplace.

Talk is cheap, indeed. Putin and Xi Jinping can make all the claims they want about being the guarantors of stability in this world. But there are a lot of us that they will never convince.

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