Prospects for strategic cooperation between China and Russia in the light of competition between the United States and China
Prospects for strategic cooperation between China and Russia in the light of competition between the United States and China

Prospects for strategic cooperation between China and Russia in the light of competition between the United States and China

They say your enemy’s enemy is your friend. This apparently applies to the Sino-Russian relations within the US-China-Russia triangulation. Although the Sino-Russian alliance in fact stems more from the understanding that conflict would just be too destructive for both sides, and cooperation is the way to achieve national interests. The United States is just one factor behind the informal Sino-Russian alliance. Global politics is changing as we know it, unipolarity is dying while a world with multiple poles is emerging. Although many call the new global political order bipolar, Russia’s recent muscle tension over Ukraine shows that it would be too early to designate the system as completely bipolar, with the United States and China as superpowers.

Russia may not be a superpower or on the same level as the aforementioned two, but in its own sphere of influence, Russia has enormous power and geopolitical implications for the United States and Europe. While US relations with both China and Russia have deteriorated, bilateral ties between China and Russia have become more multidimensional, incorporating economics, military cooperation and political understanding. The joint statement issued after the Putin-Xi meeting on the occasion of the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics shows the ever-growing ties.

Read more: Russia and China criticize Western sanctions against Moscow as “illegal”

The statement reads

“There has been a tendency for redistribution of power in the world. Some actors, representing only the minority at the international level, continue to advocate one-sided approaches to resolving international issues and resort to power; they interfere in the internal affairs of other states, violate their legitimate rights and interests and incite contradictions … “and” Democracy is exercised in all areas of public life as part of a nationwide process. There is no uniform template to guide countries in establishing democracy.

It is only up to the people of the country to decide if their state is democratic. The parties believe that the advocate of democracy and human rights must not be used to put pressure on other countries. They are against the abuse of democratic values ​​and interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states under the pretext of protecting democracy ”. With indirect shocks to the United States, the statement further reiterates Russia’s support for the One-China principle and expresses concern about AUKUS, in particular the broadcasting risks in the Indo-Pacific.

China, for its part, expressed support for Russia’s proposal for legally binding security guarantees in Europe and condemned NATO’s enlargement to the east. Both sides “also oppose international relations returning to a state of confrontation between great powers.” The Joint Declaration covers almost all major bilateral venues as well as critical national security issues for the other party, such as China’s dissatisfaction with NATO enlargement, Russia’s disapproval of AUKUS and the repetition of the One China principle.

Washington’s policy of advocating for democracy, insisting on its democratic model as the only authentic one, as well as taking practical steps to enforce its ideals where it deems appropriate, has been a major source of annoyance to both Russians and Chinese along with the United States’ arming of human rights to put pressure on certain states. Therefore, the mention of these points in the joint statement does not come as a surprise. In fact, one of the reasons behind Russia’s conflicting relations with the West, in addition to historical baggage and conflicting interests in various conflicts, is the Kremlin’s fear that Washington could attempt a regime change in Russia.

Read more: NATO warns China against supporting Russia

The condemnation of Cold War policy is also not surprising, as China, after all, its glitter in Asia and the Pacific does not want a return to the rigid bipolarity and zero-sum game of the Cold War. At least not yet. Although there is no formal alliance between Beijing and Moscow, this joint declaration enforces the notion of an informal alliance between the two states. U.S. foreign policy makers already fear a joint Sino-Russian project targeting their country, but many do not understand that the Sino-Russian alliance is likely to remain an informal one at the moment. Forming alliances is a key foreign policy tool in the US, the EU and NATO counteracted the Soviet Union, while AUKUS is targeting China in growth. Instead of entering into formal alliances, Beijing prefers informal partnerships or economic cooperation, as in the case of BRI.

This Sino-Russian informal alliance aims to keep the United States on its toes by seizing the opportunity of its worst nightmare. Both Beijing and Moscow are complicit in creating the perception that both sides could form part of a formal political or military alliance. The fear of even the slightest possibility of actualizing such a scenario fears the Americans, making it an effective tool for balancing. Contrary to the perception in Washington, the reasons behind Chinese-Russian understanding – which is perhaps the greatest at this time since Stalin’s and Mao’s time – range from the fact that both sides share a long border and both are aware of the instability. a rupture in the bilateral ties could result. The Russians especially want to separate their own international role in light of the growing competition between the United States and China.

Moscow is aware that Beijing is a rising power destined to collide with the United States and shape global order. From their point of view, it is only logical to stand on neighboring China rather than an extra-regional power like the United States. The historical baggage also exacerbates the fear of Russian elites, whose distrust of the United States and its intentions runs quite deep. The economic sanctions in 2014 imposed on Russia by the United States following the former annexation of Crimea and Russia’s resulting economic dependence on China laid the foundations for the current trend of exemplary bilateral relations.

Read more: Prime Minister Khan asks OIC, China to mediate between Ukraine and Russia

Improved ties between China and Russia

Beijing has become Moscow’s largest trading partner, with bilateral trade reaching $ 145 billion last year. The military ties have also been upgraded with an increase in military exercises and military cooperation. Although the Sino-Russian relationship is not without its fair share of problems, it is a fact that Russia and China are obliged to maintain their relations and project a common front with regard to the United States. Beijing and Moscow avoid conflicts in areas of common interest, such as Central Asia. Both sides tend to support each other and avoid taking the opposite side in various geopolitical conflicts as in Syria, Afghanistan, with regard to Iran as well as North Korea.

Recently Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called in Russian concerns regarding Ukraine “legitimate”. While exercising caution on most issues relating to the other party’s bilateral concerns, China and Russia strongly support each other on issues involving the United States, at least verbally. escalation of ties or a military conflict in Europe for fear of a fallout with its European trading partners. Similarly, Russia maintains a neutral stance on Chinese demands on the South China Sea. Moscow maintains neutrality with respect to Indochinese tensions. Both sides go on eggshells when it comes to Central Asia. The informal alliance allows both sides to express support for each other on various issues, especially regarding the United States, while avoiding fallout.

Read more: The United States is concerned about the “hostile” alliance between Russia and China

Even in the event that a war breaks out between the United States or one of the two, the other can prioritize its own national interest without jumping headlong into the conflict. The Sino-Russian alliance is strategic in the sense that it is used to pressure the United States rather than actually forming a double front against a common enemy. Given their history, both Moscow and Beijing understand the need for cordial and friendly ties. The US factor acts as a catalyst to further cement the Sino-Russian partnership. Politically, the informal alliance will continue to thrive and pressure the United States.

The author is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science at Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan. He can be contacted at [email protected] The views expressed by the authors do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of Global Village Spaces

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