Wolfgang Munchau razvija podobno tezo kot Marko Golob v komentarjih na tem blogu. In sicer, da sankcije ne bodo prizadele Rusije, pač pa se bo ta obrnila na Kitajsko in da bo prišlo do strateškega zavezništva med njima. Tako glede uvoza dobrin, kot tehnološko in glede ključnih infrastrukturnih storitev. Aktualni primer so lastni sistem medbančnega e-komuniciranja po izključitvi iz sistema SWIFT, prehod na kitajski plačilni sistem kreditnih kartic ter hitra pomoč Huawei ruski vladi.
Munchau kot neželeni dolgoročni učinek sankcij navaja Huawei, ki je po uvedbi ameriških sankcij izgubil dostop do Googlovega operacijskega sistema (OS) Android in ki lani ni mogel prodajati svojih najnovejših izdelkov v ZDA. Vendar pa je Huawei hitro razvil lasten OS (HarmonyOS) in ga lansiral lani konec maja. V bistvu je nadgradil Android 10, kar omogoča uporabnikom kompatibilnost z obstoječimi Android aplikacijami in platformami. Kljub začetni skepsi v zahodnih medijih, da se bo ta OS uveljavil, pa so na ta OS presedlale družbe OPPO, Xiaomi, Vivo in Meizu. Ob ogromnem domačem, kitajskem trgu je uspeh skorajda zagotovljen, kar pomeni, da sankcije delujejo v neželeni smeri.
Podobno kot “prostovoljne izvozne omejitve”, ki so jih v začetku 1980-ih let ZDA uvedle za izvoz japonskih avtomobilov v ZDA. Učinek tega je bil, da so japonska podjetja (1) začela v modelih ponujati več dodatne opreme in (2) seliti proizvodnjo v ZDA in s tem še bolj izpodrinila domače avtomobilske proizvajalce.
Gre seveda za špekulacije. Toda eno je sankcionirati majhne in tehnološko nebogljene države, drugo pa sankcionirati velesile, ki so tehnološko na isti ali višji stopnji razvitosti.
During the cold war, Russia and China were systemic rivals. There was no strategic alliance between the two giants of communism. Donald Trump’s sanctions on China, followed by Joe Biden’s sanction on Russia’s foreign exchange reserves, have done what even the cold war could not accomplish, driving these erstwhile rivals of the central and eastern Euroasian continent into a strategic alliance.
We read about a small, but revealing anecdote of how Huawei, itself sanctioned by US, is helping the Russian government fend off western hacker attempts. This is not what we call a verified story. It appeared on a Chinese website, and was then deleted. But Huawei later said that it would use its capacity to train 50,000 technical experts in Russia. The two most sanctioned entities in the world, Huawei and the Russian government, are colluding.
Huawei is a cautionary tale for trigger-happy sanctions advocates. Donald Trump’s sanctions mean that Huawei was no longer able to use Google’s Android operating system for Huawei smartphones. Nor could Huawei source US developed microchips. Huawei’s phone sales plummeted. Its flagship model launched last year was not available for sale in Europe and the US. But Huawei has since replaced its Android with its own operating system, HarmonyOS. And other Chinese manufacturers have start plugging the microchip shortages. There is nothing in a mobile phone that is a proprietary technology. Western sanctions had a negative impact on Huawei’s sales and profits in the short term. But they will make the company stronger in the long run.
The whole idea of economic sanctions is premised on the notion of western monopolies and monopsonies. This was the world of a bygone age. The only real monopolies we see emerging are China’s and Russia’s hold on important raw materials, which the west needs to import. Western-dominated financial infrastructure, like the Swift payment communications system, are losing their monopoly status. China and Russia have built their own infrastructure. And when Visa, Mastercard and American Express stopped business in Russia over the weekend, Russia switched to a Chinese system.
Don’t delude yourself with statistics from economists who tell you that the Russian economy is the size of Belgium and the Netherlands. You get to this number when you translate Russia’s rouble GDP into euros based on the rouble’s currently devalued exchange rate. This completely underestimates the economic scale of the Russia. For China, this is a big opportunity.
The situation reminds us of an old marketing story: two western shoe companies are sending sales to a remote underdeveloped country. One responds: there is no market. Nobody wears shoes. The other says: There is a huge market. Nobody wears shoes. A Russia subject to western sanction is a huge market for China, because nobody there has dollars, visa cards and iPhones. Russia is a culturally and scientifically advanced country with a population of 144m, the size of Germany and France combined. If you compare Russia to the Netherlands and Belgium, you are a shoe salesman of the first kind.