Ok, some stuff to come out from Xi's visit, followed by some "informed guess work".
So the first part should be largely on the money, even if the "crystal ball" stuff isn't.
"Let us kick off with the facts.
-A 3 day visit was cut short by more than a full day.
-China cancelled two pipelines, nulling completely the Russian energy swing to the East.
-China publically lambasted Russia on ever using nukes.
The trip was intended two sign contracts for those pipelines, and delivery contract on the full capacity of the first.
It was also intended as a tour de force of Chinese diplomacy as they entered the negotiations between Ukraine and Russia.
The ground was set for all of this, and Xi had even gotten Iran and Saudi Arabia to broker a peace treaty.
China was back on the map bigtime with softpower and economic power.
Within a days all of this crumbled.
From sources we know that Xi arrived in an uncredibly foul mood to Moscow.
The reasons are simple and as follows:
1. The arrest warrant from the ICC. The optics for Xi meeting a person who is wanted for theft of Children was not good anywhere for China.
2. The gas deal was looking ever more threatening to China.
3. Prigozhin killing 9 chinese workers in Central African Republic right before Xi landed broke the camels back. Xi was in a blind rage as he landed over Russian attitude.
And to make Xi's day even worse, the Russians was openly defiant to him, with Lavrov and Medvedev openly laughing at him behind his back.
And then he saw that it was an unmitigated PR disaster...
In the end he renegged on the deals, did not get involved in any peace attempt, he threatened Russia in regards of nukes, and he diminished the previous agreement.
Then he just ***ed off removing an entire day of scheduled meetings.
And it did not stop there.
As he came back he banned Chinese container vessels from docking in Russian ports and blocked container traffic via the Transsiberian from China.
Let this sink in now.
This means that almost all trade between Russia and China came to a screeching halt as ships diverted at sea, and trains was piling up in trainyards on the border to Russia.
Then China went quiet.
No call to Zelenskyy, no call to anyone.
Just a single statement, "The situation with Taiwan will be solved by peaceful agreements".
The more silence.
It is obvious that Xi is sitting at his office pondering how to move forward and how China will adapt to this into the future.
Xi actually has a headache.
He has lost softpower and economic power globally.
Russia has basically stolen China's thunder in Africa and parts of SE Asia.
In Africa they stole it quite literally in armed robberies.
India is openly beefing with China.
The US is on the path to an armed conflict with China in a few years.
EU is frosty but talking, and could easily swing into the US trail at a whim.
Xi is feeling lonely to say the least.
Xi is many things, but stupid is not one of them.
He knows that China alone is not as strong as he would like.
He is dependent on a lot of raw materials and food from the rest of the planet, and China is depending on the trade with the West.
Raw materials can only be had from Australia, Africa and Russia.
Australia can cut him off, he learned that very quickly, he also learned that India can gobble up that stream quickly and that Australia will not hurt from not trading with him.
Russia is not trusted at all, furthermore, he is miffed with them.
Africa was his prefered choice for the last decade.
Africa was willing to deal with him against cash and development, but then came Russia and stole it from him.
Trade? Well he sees that EU and US has started the process of moving back production to their own territories.
So, he needs to somehow convince those that China is a trusted trading partner again. He is as I mentioned not stupid, so he knows that the production relating to security is gone forever, but consumer goods is anyway the bulk of the Chinese offering.
So, what can China do to ameliorate the West, prove their worth, without seeming to give in to the West?
Xi needs a mutual punching bag with the West.
Thankfully for Xi there is one.
Obviously he can't enter the coalition against Russia openly in Ukraine, but he can do other things to hurt Russia and help himself at the same time.
And he could do it coming out smelling like roses and shining of peaceful bliss.
Here is what I think he will do.
CAR & Mali
It is no secret that Wagner has redone these two countries into Prigozhins private kingdoms.
Mali was under a UN Peacekeeping Mission that failed as we and the French had to pull out to many troops as the invasion of Ukraine started.
In came Wagner and filled the void, and then they stole the country.
CAR, this is a hellhole that nobody is even trying to make peace in.
China has tried for a few years, at least so much that they can sort of safely extract values from there.
But, then Wagner entered, and basically took over the country, and started to kill even Chinese there.
And Wagner is technically not Russia, he can attack them as much as he wish.
Mali is under UN even, he can just send 10 000 Chinese soldiers with blue barrets and whack Wagner looking like a hero while doing it.
CAR is so bad that if he could bring at least some stability he would also smell like roses.
Chinese troops there would make nobody angry, instead it would be seen favourably by everyone.
And, he could get the AU to sign off on it, they want this problem solved anyway possible.
I think China will pick attacking in Africa over attacking Russia, at least for now.
Better to let the West continue to bleed Russia dry over Ukraine, and then he can walk in and take his pickings as Russia crumbles.
China is about longterm always.
I think Prigozhin will have a very bad day soon as his retirement kingdoms get taken from him."