Russia should be concerned about its partner China, US Ambassador Pick says: – Community News
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Russia should be concerned about its partner China, US Ambassador Pick says:

  • Russia and China have converged in recent years, as evidenced by a recent first-of-its-kind naval exercise near Japan.
  • Those closer ties have worried US officials, some of whom have said Russia should be wary of.
  • Both Moscow and Beijing have every reason to maintain good ties, but largely because of a mutual enemy: the US.

Russia and China held a first-of-its-kind joint military exercise last week, sailing warships around Japan in the latest demonstration of strengthening ties of concern to Western officials.

As those ships docked in the Pacific, President Joe Biden’s candidate for US ambassador to China told lawmakers that Russia should be wary of its new partner, but experts have said both Moscow and Beijing have ample reason to establish friendly relations. to maintain.

“I think many of us, maybe 10, 20 years ago, wouldn’t have expected China and Russia to partner strategically, but they are,” Nicholas Burns told the senators during his hearing on Wednesday. were “all the more reason why we need to deepen our own alliances and partnerships.”

Russia Chinese naval ships patrol the Pacific Ocean

Russian and Chinese naval vessels conduct a joint military patrol in the Pacific Ocean, Oct. 23, 2021.

Russian Ministry of Defense/Handout via REUTERS

Since the end of the Cold War, China and Russia have steadily strengthened their relations, especially their military ties.

China’s participation in Russia’s Vostok exercise in 2018 was a milestone, and they followed it up with joint bomber patrols over disputed areas of the Pacific in 2019 and 2020 and this week with a joint naval exercise in the same area.

On Wednesday, 10 Russian and Chinese warships sailed for the first time through the narrow Tsugaru Strait, between two of Japan’s main islands, and continued a joint patrol in the Pacific, also a first. On Saturday, in another first, the warships sailed through the Osumi Strait off the south coast of Japan to the East China Sea, where they parted ways.

The Chinese Defense Ministry said the patrol was intended to further develop their “comprehensive strategic partnership”, while the Russian Defense Ministry said it was intended to “demonstrate the state flags of Russia and China” and “demonstrate facilities of the maritime economic activity of both countries”.

The exercise was widely seen as a thinly veiled message to both Japan and the US. Both transits were “lawful, but unnecessary, and therefore designed to send out an even sharper signal,” Peter Dutton, an expert on Chinese naval activities at the US Naval War College, said Sunday.

A shared opponent

Putin xi China Russia

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin at a ceremony to open Sino-Russian naval exercises in Shanghai, 20 May 2014.

Reuters/Alexei Druzhinin/RIA Novosti/Kremlin

China and Russia’s rivalry with the US and its partners has fostered cooperation, but they have their own historic disputes, which, along with China’s ascendancy, should give rise to Moscow, according to Burns, who served as Russia’s senior director on the National Security Council. in the 1990s.

“My numbers may be a little off, but I think there are 6 or 7 million Russians living east of the Ural Mountains in that vast expanse, and there are 300 or 400 million Chinese among them,” Burns told lawmakers on Wednesday. “The Russians will have to worry about the long-term economic domination of Russia by China.”

“Russians should be concerned about the build-up of Chinese nuclear weapons in the western part of China, about the hypersonic missile test” earlier this year, and the fact that China is completely unconstrained,” Burns added.

Burns’ comments echo those of other US officials and experts who point to demographics, power imbalances and China’s international presence as possible sources of friction.

China’s activity in areas where Russia has traditionally had influence is likely already a concern among Russian officials, according to Christopher Bort, national intelligence officer for Russia and Eurasia on the National Intelligence Council from 2017 to 2021.

“They are able to work through potential competition, but, as many people have pointed out, it may become a problem for the next generation of Russian leaders,” Bort said earlier this year.

Other experts have said China has an interest in maintaining good relations with Russia, especially amid tensions with the US.

Russian President Vladimir Putin with Chinese soldier

Putin during a parade during the 2018 Russian military exercises Vostok, in which the Chinese army participated for the first time, September 13, 2018.

Alexei NikolskyTASS via Getty Images

China has acquired significant military hardware and expertise from Russia, and two decades of good relations have “bought China quite a bit of strategic space” to focus on the western Pacific, “so it would be in China’s long-term interest to keep that.” Toshi Yoshihara, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said earlier this year.

China’s progress could lead to it becoming more assertive on the international stage, but “Beijing will be careful not to be arrogant in its relations with Russia — as long as it needs Moscow as the main geopolitical ally in the fight against the US,” it said. Artyom Lukin, a scholar of international relations at the Russian Federal University of the Far East.

“In the near future, I don’t see any conflicts or flashpoints that could fatally undermine the relationship between Russia and China. That’s mainly because they have a shared adversary – the US,” Lukin told Insider.

US military officials have expressed concern about military cooperation between China and Russia, but downplay it as “superficial.” US officials have also cited the magnitude of US alliances and partnerships as evidence of the international isolation of Russia and China.

“We generally don’t have a problem with military exercises. We do it all the time,” Pentagon chief spokesman John Kirby said Monday when asked about the recent naval exercise between Russia and China.

“We continue to work with our allies and partners in the region — and we have many — and we believe those alliances and partnerships are real, unique strengths that the United States has,” Kirby added.

Russia and China don’t have a formal alliance, but officials in both countries, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, have used glowing terms to describe their relations — reflecting lessons learned from 20th-century clashes.

“At least as far as the current leaders in Moscow and Beijing are concerned, they are very aware of this historic experience,” Lukin said.