Russia and China get closer together amid Western pressure

In their second face-to-face meeting in seven months, Xi and Putin’s message was that Russia and China would stand together against the “unipolar world”.

During a meeting on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in the Uzbek city of Samarkand on September 15, Chinese President Xi Jinping told Russian President Vladimir Putin that Beijing would support the Moscow’s core interests, including Ukraine.

President Putin affirmed that Russia supports the “One China” policy and opposes the “aggressive actions” of the US in the Taiwan Strait. He declared that US efforts to create a unipolar world would fail, saying that the meeting with President Xi Jinping would “make the Russia-China partnership stronger and stronger”.

President Xi (left) and President Putin on the sidelines of the SCO summit in Uzbekistan on September 15.  Photo: AFP

President Xi (left) and President Putin on the sidelines of the SCO summit in Uzbekistan on September 15. Image: AFP

Long before the Ukraine-Russia conflict broke out, the world order had big changes. The US, under the Donald Trump administration, prioritized the “America First” policy and pushed relations with China to a serious plunge.

After US President Joe Biden took office, he continued to pursue a hardline policy towards China and forge alliances against Beijing’s influence.

Then the Russia-Ukraine conflict broke out, accelerating the process of division and reshaping global geopolitics. The US and the West established an anti-Russian alliance, launched unprecedented sanctions, making Russia-Western relations worse and worse.

“All of these developments are eroding post-Cold War globalization. With the weakening of the global order and increasing power conflicts, the world is entering an era of instability and reorganization. Closer Russia-China relations will be an important part of this process,” said Lance Gore, a senior fellow at the East Asia Institute at the National University of Singapore.

The relationship between Russia and China is quite close, both in history, in geopolitics and in economy, as well as in confrontational views with the US in many fields. The larger context of the Russia-China relationship is the US strategic pivot to Asia and the eastward expansion of NATO, especially after Moscow’s 2014 annexation of the Crimean peninsula.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi compared NATO’s eastward expansion to US alliance-building activities in the Indo-Pacific, saying that “the real goal of the US is to establish a version NATO”. Indo-Pacific edition”.

“Pressure from both sides of the Eurasian continent has squeezed the strategic space of China and Russia, pushing the two giants together,” said Gore.

The researcher of the East Asia Institute said that the current relationship between Russia and China is an “offensive partnership”, which has the potential to evolve into an alliance that seeks to promote a new world order, not a new world order. necessarily a military alliance.

Neither Moscow nor Beijing are satisfied with the current world order. In a speech launching Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine on February 24, President Vladimir Putin made it clear that his military goals are to change the rules of the game in international relations. He and top Russian officials have repeatedly talked about ending American domination in international affairs.

During a meeting in Uzbekistan on September 15, Xi stated that China is willing to work with Russia to “show the responsibility of a great power and play a leading role to bring positive and stable energy into a The world is reeling from social upheaval.”

Chinese Ambassador to the US Qin Gang also wanted to assure the West that China is now a great power. “The current international system is not perfect. It needs to be improved over time and China is committed to supporting this process,” he said.

Observers say that only emerging non-Western powers such as China, Russia and India can speak out and try to change the old order. China’s rapid rise in the international arena and Russia’s assertive stance under Putin have created impetus for the two countries to define and put forward a new perspective on the world order.

On February 24, as Russia launched its military campaign in Ukraine, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the Global Security Initiative (GSI) during his speech at the Boao Forum for Asia. At the heart of the GSI is a new security concept with “common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security”, rejecting Cold War mentality, opposing unilateralism and saying no to factional politics, establishing confrontation blocks.

Although Russia disagrees with all of these aspects, the GSI also highlights the shared vision between Moscow and Beijing as an “inseparable security principle”. This concept requires the parties to commit to respect the legitimate security concerns of states, to build a balanced, effective and sustainable security architecture, and to oppose ensuring the security of a single country. by threatening other countries.

Putin invoked this principle when he launched his military campaign in Ukraine. The Russian leadership believes that Moscow’s security is threatened by NATO’s eastward progress.

Mr. Xi and Mr. Putin have repeatedly protested against the Western anti-terrorist campaigns around the world, which have caused disasters in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan and many other places. A recent estimate indicates that about 380,000 civilians have been killed in armed conflicts in these countries and millions have taken refuge.

Researcher Lance Gore believes that it is the common views and visions that create the foundation for a potential alliance between Russia and China. Gore said Russia-China relations have developed steadily over the past three decades and defense cooperation appears to have deepened.

At the end of 2021, the two countries will hold unprecedented joint naval exercises in the Tsugaru Strait in Japan, to show off their power at sea. Russian and Chinese bombers also conducted the second joint strategic patrol in the Sea of ​​Japan and East China Sea.

Large-scale exercises involving special forces have become routine, as the bilateral security relationship extends beyond mere counterterrorism exercises. In addition to complex topics such as air attack and anti-submarine warfare, the two countries’ forces also coordinated drills on cyber warfare and early warning systems.

On May 24, the two countries held the first joint military exercise since Russia launched a military operation in Ukraine, in which the two sides sent strategic bombers to fly over the Sea of ​​Japan, East China and West China. Pacific. The exercise appeared to be a show of strength amid President Biden’s visit to the region.

Most recently, China also participated in the Vostok drills that Russia organized from September 1-7 with India, Mongolia, Belarus and other countries. The Russian Defense Ministry announced on September 15 that the two navies have deployed a fleet of warships to patrol and conduct live-fire drills in the Pacific Ocean to strengthen cooperation.

Flags of Russia, China and Mongolia during the joint exercise Vostok 2018. Photo: AP.

Flags of Russia, China and Mongolia during the joint exercise Vostok 2018. Photo: AP.

Yun Sun, director of the China program at the Stimson Center, said that as pressure from the West regarding Ukraine and Taiwan increases, Russia-China relations in all aspects will be further strengthened.

China understands that there is almost no way to return to a constructive relationship with the US, when Washington still sees Beijing as a threat. In that context, strengthening ties with Russia to re-establish world order might be a viable option.

Even so, Mr. Xi is unlikely to show stronger military or political support for Russia, because doing so could expose China to Western sanctions, complicating the situation. The major challenges that Beijing is facing, including the slow growth of the economy and the complicated development of the Covid-19 situation, according to Yun Sun.

Lance Gore also said that Russia – China is likely to maintain the strategic partnership that Mr. Xi declared “stronger than the alliance”, to maximize options and better serve international interests. their special family.

“In any case, a closer and stronger Russia-China partnership is an important development in world politics,” the expert said.

Thanh Tam (Theo WP, ThinkChina)

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