“Putin is my most intimate partner,” stated Xi Jin Ping President of China stated in a recent meeting. Their amicable relationship once again became the center of attention as they held the biggest joint army training since the Cold War. The Chinese representative states that this army training held by Russia and China is to protect local security; and is not to threaten the global security. However, many experts are stating that such military training partly has its aims in warning the U.S. Now is the appropriate time to investigate the significance of the two nations’ relationship and its influence on the global society.
As the two major nations who follow socialism, China and Russia have long been strategic allies against the United States (U.S.) and Japan. They have always held similar views towards international issues concerning the Middle East, North Korea and nuclear weapons. Furthermore, China had set 2006 as “Russia’s year” and Russia assigned 2007 as “China’s year” and numerous jointly executed numerous events. On 2010, they issued the Russia- China joint statement and signed collaborative documents in 17 different fields. However, recently their relationship has taken next step, as their amicability seems to be at their height.
▲ Professor Lee Jung Nam, Photographed by Kim Seung Hye
Professor Lee Jung Nam (Asiatic Research Institute) states in her paper that it is important to understand that Russia and China are two strategically cooperating nations in a competitive relationship. Due to the Ukrainian crisis and the eastern shift of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)’s defense missile, Russia needed the help of major powers to endure the pressure the global world is forcing upon itself. On the other hand, China needed a major power that can cooperate to effectively contain the U.S., For these reasons, the two nations are developing a strong alliance, but it can be always be broken whenever because the two nations are also rivals.
Significance in Military
China’s Air Force General, Xu Qiliang, stated that “China will continue to strengthen military-to-military relations with Russia to address new security challenges in the world.” He confirmed their intimate relationship by adding that “relations are now at an all time high, characterized by deepening strategic mutual trust and expanding cooperation.” As his quotes and recent joint military training illustrates, it is clear that the two countries will continuously and strategically increase their military power through cooperation. *People’s Daily * states that the two nations are in touch naval drill planned in the Yellow Sea, towards the latter part of this year.
Not surprisingly, the U.S. is currently taking strong measures against the two nation’s military relations through economic sanctions. On September 20, the U.S. imposed sanctions against China for purchasing weapons from Russia. The U.S. State Department argued that their nation made such a decision to punish Russia for its continuous “malign activities” which include their impediment in the election and their actions in Ukraine. Their sanctions come from the law that obligates the nation to impose sanctions against anyone who is engaged in huge dealings with people related to the Russian intelligence and the military. As a result, the U.S’s blacklist elongated to include 33 Russians and Chinese officials in the military agency. The list now consists total of 72 people.
China, on the other hand, showed its outrage on this matter and demanded the sanctions to be taken back immediately. Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang stated that Beijing is seriously dissatisfied with the U.S. and its sanctions that disables China from engaging in economic interactions with the U.S. financial system. Shuang warned that the “U.S.’s actions are unreasonable and strongly urges the U.S. to immediately correct its mistakes.” He added that he will do everything to get the sanctions withdrawn.
Stephen Blank, a senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council, claims that the U.S. and its close allies should be careful about China-Russia relations. The two nations, strong and influential by itself, are increasing their power through close cooperation and if left unattended may threaten other nations. He adds that “all of Asia has to take their alliance into consideration as a factor in their defense planning.”
▲ Xi Jinping and Putin, Provided by the Los Angeles TIMES
Their relation does not end in the military. They have been developing closer relations in the economy as well. Their economic relationship dates back to 1996 when they signed the “Russia China strategic cooperation relation.” Their relation progressed through various other cooperative documents signed in 2001, 2004, and 2007. As a result, their trade has expanded about 20 to 30 percent, reaching 48 billion dollars in 2007 and is now escalating.
Another factor that is increasing faster than ever is the stock value each country holds of each other. Tan Peng, the General Manager of Changan’s Russian branch, asserts that “although we do not have a big market share in Russia yet, the growth is rather rapid.” He states that they were able to receive a revenue of about 32 million dollars last year and are calling for a 20 percent increase this year. If their rate of increase continues, then the economic mutual benefits shall be greater for both. While China and Russia are strengthening trade ties with each other, the U.S. and China are currently engaged in a trade war.
Such a global trend illustrates how China- Russia’s anti-U.S. ties are strengthening. Many experts expect that this trend shall continue to effectively hinder American supremacy. However, the Sino-Russian relation is not without concerns. Professor Lee states that Russia once was one of the greatest powers on Earth with the U.S. It would not want China to take over its past glory that easily.
She added that it is important to note that the Chinese economy is about 10 times bigger than that of Russia; it is hard to continue such an alliance if the economic gap is too large. Russia is currently showing support for China’s Belt and Road project, a plan to make trade paths that connect Europe and Asia. However, Professor Lee cautions that this is only to maintain the alliance and points out that Russia is currently concerned about China’s control over the Central Asia region in which the trade route goes through. Central Asia includes areas which were originally Soviet land, such as Uzbekistan, but these areas are now currently contributing to China’s growing economy.
Professor Lee states that as long as the two nations’ relations with the U.S. is hostile, their alliance will stay strong. However, she asserts that both China and Russia are not willing to sacrifice their relation with U.S. to maintain the amicability between themselves. As soon as either country’s relations with the U.S. improves, their strategic alliance will be threatened. The future is unclear, but it is certain that China-Russia relations will be a big influence on the global society no matter what. It is important to spectate for the slightest changes that occur in international relations and react accordingly.