The Chinese-Russian bond

The Chinese-Russian bond

The Chinese-Russian bond
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On the eve of the Chinese New Year, President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin met in Beijing as Moscow’s deteriorating relations with the West take centre stage ahead of the official opening of the Winter Olympics in the Chinese capital.

During his visit, Putin hailed his country’s “unprecedented” ties with China at a time of growing tensions with the West over Ukraine and other issues.

In August 2021, Russia and China held a joint military drill in China. This was the first time ever Russian soldiers trained on Chinese soil.

In October, Chinese and Russian warships conducted joint naval drills in the western Pacific for the first time, completing a near circle around Japan’s main island in moves Tokyo described as “unusual”, but that Beijing and Moscow said were aimed at maintaining peace and stability in the volatile region.

The roadmap, signed by Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and his Chinese vis-à-vis Wei Fenghe, capped a year that has seen unprecedented growth in military cooperation, including large-scale war games in China’s Ningxia in August, when Russian troops became the first foreign forces to join a regular Chinese drill, as well as announcements to jointly develop military helicopters, missile attack warning systems and even a research station on the moon.

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It is not only on defence that the two have moved closer but also on the diplomatic and economic fronts. On foreign policy, Beijing and Moscow share similar approaches to Iran, Syria and Venezuela, and recently revived a push to lift the United Nations sanctions on North Korea. China’s President Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin have a personal rapport, too, having met more than 30 times since 2013. The Chinese leader has even called Putin his “best friend”.

The deepening of ties has indeed worried the West, with American intelligence assessments listing China, Russia and their alignment as the biggest security threats to the United States, and NATO — the Western security alliance created in 1949 as a bulwark against the Soviet Union, planning to broaden its focus to address countering both countries.

In an interview with the London-based Financial Times last month, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said he does not see China and Russia as two separate threats. “China and Russia work closely together,” he said. “This whole idea of distinguishing so much between China, Russia, either the Asia-Pacific or Europe — it is one big security environment and we have to address it all together.”

The former editor-in-chief of the Global Times, Hu Xijin, wrote that the United States is strategically trying to squeeze China and Russia at the same time. “It’s arrogant. It is pushing China and Russia together to strike back. Russia has suffered more pressure from the US. How it will resolve disputes with Ukraine is one thing. But when it comes to resisting a US crackdown, Russia is not alone. Most of the Chinese people will support it and are willing to see the Chinese government assist Russia in this aspect. Because we know well that if Russia is crushed by the US, this will bring no good to China at all. China and Russia have a comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination. They are not empty words.”

Since the end of the Cold War, the US has promoted rounds of NATO eastward expansion in disregard to Russia’s strong opposition, eventually pushing Russia into a corner. If Ukraine joins NATO, the US missiles deployed in Kiev can reach Moscow in just five minutes. The US accuses Russia of “holding a gun pointed to Ukraine’s head,” while the US is targeting its own missiles at Moscow’s heart. In the past 30 years, the US elite always viewed Russia with the arrogance of a “victor,” believing that Russia is the “loser” in the Cold War and deserves to be “punished.” In their mind, Russia should be submissively lying on the edge of Europe, being bullied by the US and its allies.

Commenting on the ongoing issue between Russia and Ukraine, the US president, Joe Biden said, “Do I think he (Putin) will test the United States and NATO? Yes, I think he will. He will pay a serious and dear price for it that he does not think now and he will regret having done it.”

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So far, the US and the West have slapped more than 100 sanctions on Russia, sparing no effort to suppress a major power “from a position of strength.” The US and NATO had warned Russia with a sense of intimidation. In the dictionary of Washington, “respect” is rarely seen. Washington’s real intent is to pressure Russia until it surrenders, so as to get rid of this threat to US hegemony for good. The reckless war-mongering posturing of Washington aimed at provoking Russia and China only serves to expose its hegemonic and bullying practices, which stem from its deeply ingrained Cold War mentality and zero-sum view of international relations. Washington should stop living in the past. The Joe Biden administration should not let its foreign policies be dictated by the intimate defense-industry connections. As the country’s recent military adventurism in Iraq and Afghanistan show, the US too will bear a heavy cost for that.

Developing countries such as China and Russia gradually found a development model suitable to their own national conditions after the Cold War, while abandoning the West-led Washington Consensus because they saw its inherent defects, which prompted China and Russia to be more vocal on a pluralistic global order

China and Russia have been reiterating that there is no limit to bilateral strategic cooperation, a new form of partnership between major powers that has clearly made the US anxious. And a crucial factor behind such a limitless development in bilateral ties is the high degree of mutual understanding between the two powerful leaders on global governance.

Nevertheless, the world has already changed. It will eventually be proven that the infringement of other countries’ core interests and the violation of international equality and justice will not bring another “victory” to Washington as it has wished.

Washington still has deep-rooted hegemonic thinking, but its hegemony is something tough outside but weak inside. Therefore, the world has seen a tangled US: It on one hand acts maliciously against other major powers but cannot really give up negotiations on the other hand.

As a matter of fact, the US doesn’t have much capital to squander on great-power relations; its “position from strength” cannot support its hegemonic ambitions. And the times will not give it such an opportunity either.

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Nonetheless, this alliance is bad news for the West, two nuclear powers, two strong armies, and the same enemy. What about the other side, there is a reluctant France, a Britain consumed by domestic politics, a Europe divided over China and the United States led by Joe Biden. Can Joe Biden spread his military so thin? Remember he is also negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran. If this fails, this becomes a three-front threat; Europe, West Asia and the Pacific. The fact is Biden cannot break this alliance; the Russia-China alliance.  His sanctions can only drive them closer.

 

(The writer is a staff member of BOL News. Views expressed by him are his own and do not reflect the newspaper’s policy)

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