I’ll make a prediction that is not a happy one, a prediction I first made while I was in Army Intelligence, with a nuclear missile brigade, more than four decades ago.
Within the lifetime of my children, they are 18 to 35, we will see a nuclear exchange between Russia and China due to a Chinese invasion of Siberia. No, contrary to those who think one clash will spark Armageddon, it will not be the end of the planet or the last days of humanity.
The conflict will be limited to Asia. There will be several exchanges, perhaps limited to the battle zone, perhaps not. At that point both will draw back and after a suitable period Russia will cede vast tracts of Siberia to China. It will be a fait accompli, as the Chinese will have already occupied the territory in question.
That’s why the Putin and Xi show is a relationship of convenience. It is two mob bosses ganging up to take advantage of the weak school marm and her friends on the Western side of town. That would be the Biden administration and Europe. But deep inside, the Russians and Chinese hate each other with a passion.
Why do they loathe the other so adamantly and why is the aforementioned clash almost inevitable? It’s a racial thing. The Russians are very ethnocentric and see the Chinese in almost European 19th century terms. The Chinese, residents of the “Celestial Kingdom”, find the rest of humanity inherently repugnant. The two have also clashed more than once. Small to midrange battles have occurred on the Amur River in the 1960s and in sporadic border incidents since.
It’s also a matter of territory, Russia has it and China wants it. Siberia is a treasure house of raw materials. The Russians, whose population declines year by year, do not have the military manpower to defend the wide expanse. China’s economy needs more and more raw materials to keep pace with her plans of regional then global hegemony. She’s much like the Japanese in the early 1940s, except that the Chicoms are exceedingly patient and look at moves over decades, not over weeks, as is the Western fashion.
And then there’s the population issue. China, because of her previous one child policy, has a big surplus of young men. When those men can’t find mates or opportunities at home, they will desire to seek it elsewhere. The Chinese government will accommodate them. That point mitigates towards a clash sooner rather than later.
Then finally and coldly, like his seeming role model Chairman Mao, Xi probably thinks he can lose half his population in a nuclear exchange and, quoting Buck Turgidson, not get his hair mussed. Maybe even come out stronger. The Russians can’t absorb that kind of punishment, hence their likely loss in the conflict. Is this a guaranteed event? Sane people pray not. But history tends to discount them. It has its own logic, its own calendar.