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Ukraine War And BRICS Ambitions? Why The Superpowers Still Hold The Cards

The war in Ukraine has become globalized, with its effects being felt from Africa to China. The only hope of de-escalation is in a potential diplomatic summit between the U.S. and China this autumn.

The 15th BRICS Summit takes place at the Sandton Convention Centre from August 22 to 24

The 15th BRICS Summit takes place at the Sandton Convention Centre from August 22 to 24.

Pierre Haski


PARIS — Beware of optical illusions. The fact that the war in Ukraine has become globalized doesn't mean it's a world war. Nonetheless, its impact is being felt everywhere, and political decisions regarding the unfolding conflict in Ukraine, fueled by doubts and ideological divisions, cannot be reserved to the European theater alone.

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Take the BRICS Summit (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) in Johannesburg this week: It may give the impression that a coherent anti-Western bloc is emerging. The reality is more complex, and while the participants all benefit from this political display, their differences are immense. Yet, we must not overlook the political message being sent out by this emerging "club" of nations.

When it comes to the Sahel region of north-central Africa, for example, we risk falling into the same distorted reflection of reality. After the putsch in Niger, it would be a mistake to see these repeated coups d'état as just one facet of the new global Cold War. The presence of the Wagner group and the specter of Russia are an opportunistic result of instability rather than its cause: the political crisis is first and foremost an African one.

Confusing cause and consequence can lead to over-reactions, of which history is full of examples. Still, the African continent is being dragged unwillingly into the shockwave of the invasion of Ukraine.

Who lost Asia?

Ultimately, as tensions continue to mount in the Pacific, the Russian war has become an inescapable factor in a strategic equation that both precedes and surpasses it. The United States is obsessed with its rivalry with China – not with Russia or the future of Europe. It is supporting Ukraine on such a massive scale only because it knows that a Russian victory would give Beijing wings, perhaps encouraging it to be even more aggressive in the heated waters of the South China Sea or in Taiwan.

This debate is first and foremost a political one.

If that were the case, the American debate would not be about "who lost Ukraine" (as in 1949, after Mao’s victory in Beijing, where the question in Washington was "who lost China?”), but instead "who lost Asia", and thus the world.

It is in this complex and confusing context that a new debate on military aid to Ukraine has arisen. The debate is at times caricatural, as seen in Nicolas Sarkozy's "Putinophile" stance in France; or more strategic, in Washington's doubts about the Ukrainians' ability to shift the balance of power after the undeniably mixed results of their summer offensive.

However, this debate is first and foremost a political one, based in part on the Americans' initial analysis of the global impact of this conflict. In the highly inflammatory context of the U.S. election campaign, any setback in Ukraine would be interpreted as a gain for Xi Jinping's China, and therefore a failure for U.S. President Joe Biden.

\u200bChinese President Xi Jinping and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa during a meeting in Pretoria, South Africa.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa during a meeting in Pretoria, South Africa.

Government Information Service

All eyes on Biden & Xi

The only hope of de-escalation, in an atmosphere more conducive to war than détente, lies in a possible summit between Biden and Xi Jinping, which diplomats from both countries are trying to organize this coming fall. It's not to make peace, either in Ukraine or with each other, but to agree on how to disagree without dragging the world into widespread conflict. It's not much, but it's a lot.

We now need to relaunch the détente process.

This was already the issue at stake during their last meeting in Bali, in November 2022 on the sidelines of the G20, but the process of détente was quickly derailed. We now need to relaunch it before an incident in the China Sea makes the situation turn sour, before a new incursion in Taiwan sets the world ablaze, or before Vladimir Putin leads the world in a headlong rush.

The Europeans are largely spectators because the Ukrainian issue has become global: That's the reality of this end-of-summer at gunpoint.

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How A Xi Jinping Dinner In San Francisco May Have Sealed Mastercard's Arrival In China

The credit giant becomes only the second player after American Express to be allowed to set up a bank card-clearing RMB operation in mainland China.

Photo of a hand holding a phone displaying an Union Pay logo, with a Mastercard VISA logo in the background of the photo.

Mastercard has just been granted a bank card clearing license in China.

Liu Qianshan


It appears that one of the biggest beneficiaries from Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to San Francisco was Mastercard.

The U.S. credit card giant has since secured eagerly anticipated approval to expand in China's massive financial sector, having finally obtained long sought approval from China's central bank and financial regulatory authorities to initiate a bank card business in China through its joint venture with its new Chinese partner.

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Through a joint venture in China between Mastercard and China's NetsUnion Clearing Corporation, dubbed Mastercard NUCC, it has officially entered mainland China as an RMB currency clearing organization. It's only the second foreign business of its kind to do so following American Express in 2020.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that the development is linked to Chinese President Xi Jinping's meeting on Nov. 15 with U.S. President Joe Biden in San Francisco, part of a two-day visit that also included dinner that Xi had with U.S. business executives.

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