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Donald Trump must split up Putin and Xi, the new odd couple

Niall Ferguson
 

By Niall Ferguson (original source The Times)

“Cold wars make for odd couples. When Joseph Stalin met Mao Tse-tung in Moscow in December 1949, it wasn’t exactly a bromance. “I have only three tasks here,” Mao complained when the Soviet leader paid him next to no attention. “The first is to eat, the second is to sleep, the third is to shit!”

In the end, Mao got the Soviet backing his new People’s Republic desperately needed. But the price ended up being to fight the Korean War on Stalin’s behalf.

That particular odd couple ended up getting a divorce. By 1960, Mao and Nikita Khrushchev were openly criticising one another. By 1969, Soviet and Chinese troops were fighting a border war.

In this new Cold War, the odd couple consists of Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin. No two world leaders see one another more frequently. Xi has even called Putin his “best friend”. But compared with the 1950s, the roles have been reversed. China is now the giant, Russia the mean little sidekick. China under Xi remains strikingly faithful to the doctrine of Marx and Lenin. Russia under Putin has reverted to tsarism.”

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