By Wang Haiyun
They voices on a new Cold War, particularly among the US
Conservatives, hold two contradicting views on relationship between China and
Russia. Some believe Beijing and Moscow have formed a strategic alliance, which
will pose a huge threat to the US. Others claim current ties are not strong, and
that Russia China ties might changes once Moscow improves its ties the US and EU.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying recently said that, “In the face of profound and complex changes in the international landscape, China-Russia relations have demonstrated rock-firm stability and injected many stabilizing factors into the complex and unstable world.” Her words were the true definition of Russia China ties. Moreover, fresh developments in Beijing-Moscow ties last year supported the above belief. Bilateral relations have been not only stable but also better.
So, why have these ties gradually improved?
First, from a regional perspective, both China and Russia are each other’s largest neighbors, playing a significant role in security and development. Without good ties and cooperation between the two countries, China would dither from exposing its coastal areas as much as it does now or there would be no establishment and development of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization SCO, which works as a new regional cooperative organization. Also, because both the countries are neighbours, they are also concerned about the security issues concerning the region and therefore jointly tackling such problems. It is therefore important to note that without good ties with China, Russia would find it hard to focus on dealing with the worsening security threat from the West or push for its regional development strategy.
Moreover, both the countries enable each other to complement each other’s strategic depth. China is not only the second largest economy, but its political influence and military power have also increased rapidly. Although Russia is not a superpower any more, its comprehensive national strength cannot be underestimated; especially in military clout, it is second only to the US. Additionally, Russia excels in diplomacy and strategy. Therefore more cooperation means more development and benefits for each other. Therefore, cooperation enables both the countries to overcome external challenges, both security and economic.
Third, both the countries are in a similar strategic position. Both Russia and China are emerging, non-Western powers, permanent members of the UN Security Council, and countries the US mainly intends to contain. Hence, compared to the West, strategic goals and objectives of both the countries are similar in nature. Moreover, both of them also insist on the principle of “non-alignment, non-confrontation, and not targeting a third party,” reject rivalry bloc and ideological hegemony. This approach is highlighted by the fact that both undertake mutually beneficial cooperation and are concerned about each other’s interests. This similarity also plays a major role in bilateral cooperation and coordination.
Finally, in line with the changing world order, both China and Russia have been given new tasks. What US Secretary of Defense James Mattis said, “Russia has more in common with Western Europe and the United States than they have in common with China” is untenable. The prospect of China-Russia ties will be deeper and closer. They are unlikely to form a military alliance as the West predicts, not only because they follow the principle of being a “partnership rather than alliance”, but also because there are no necessary conditions for an alliance. An alliance between the two would become the target of the US hegemonic system that may lead to a new confrontation between the two poles, threatening their own security and development. This would therefore create further complications not only for both Russia and China but also for the New World Order.
Therefore, the future of Russia China partnership can be defined in the words of Russian President Putin, who said that both the countries “see each other as close allies”. And this will remain the tagline during the future trajectory of bilateral ties between both the countries.
The author is executive director of the High-level Think Tank on China-Russia Strategic Coordination.
Modified from its original version published on Global Times (China)