Why do China and Russia strengthen relations? | Political News

After the warship sailed around the main island of Japan for several weeks, the Chinese and Russian troops sent bombers to the air defense zones of Japan and South Korea, forcing Seoul to urgently dispatch fighter jets in response.

In Tokyo on Tuesday, Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi met with reporters and expressed “serious concern” about the joint patrol that took place last week, saying that the actions of Beijing and Moscow clearly showed that “the security situation around Japan is getting more and more severe.”

While he was speaking, his Chinese and Russian counterparts were holding virtual talks. They praised the air and naval exercise as a “significant event” and signed a new agreement to further deepen the defense relationship.

The road map signed by Russian Defense Minister Shoigu and Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe marked a year of unprecedented growth in military cooperation, including a large-scale military exercise in Ningxia, China in August, when the Russian army became the first foreign army to join China exercises regularly and announced the joint development of military helicopters, missile attack early warning systems, and even the establishment of a research station on the moon.

“This is the strongest, closest, and best relationship between the two countries since at least the mid-1950s. And probably forever,” said Nigel Gould-Day, a senior researcher for Russia and Eurasia at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). Said Nigel Gould-Davies.

On August 8, 2019, the Chinese Marine Corps participated in the 2019 International Army Games at the Khmelevka shooting range on the Baltic coast of the Kaliningrad region, Russia [File: Vitaly Nevar/ Reuters]

Gould-Davis pointed out that Sino-Russian relations have always been marked by mutual caution, including the border conflict in the 1960s, which reportedly pushed Beijing and Moscow to the brink of nuclear war. Gould-Davis Said that the current state of affairs is “special.” He said that the relationship “developed very rapidly, in fact in the past 10 years”, and after the West imposed sanctions on Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, the relationship accelerated.

Diplomatic and economic relations

The two countries are not only closer in national defense, but also closer in diplomacy and economy.

In terms of foreign policy, Beijing and Moscow have adopted similar practices against Iran, Syria and Venezuela, and recently renewed efforts to lift UN sanctions against North Korea.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Putin also have a personal relationship and have met more than 30 times since 2013. The Chinese leader even called Putin his “best friend.”

On June 28, 2021, Russian President Vladimir Putin held a video conference call with Chinese President Xi Jinping in the Moscow Kremlin, Russia [File: Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin, Sputnik via Reuters]

For China, Russia is its largest supplier of weapons and the second largest source of oil imports. For Russia, China is its largest national trading partner and the main source of investment in energy projects, including the Yamal LNG plant in the Arctic Circle and the Siberian Power Pipeline. This is a US$55 billion natural gas project that is a historical part of Russia. The largest natural gas project in China.

Gould-Davies of IISS stated that the main driving force behind all this is the hostility of China and Russia to liberal democratic values.

“Both countries are ruled by anti-democratic regimes, and these regimes have a strong common interest in resisting the influence of their own free Western values,” he told Al Jazeera. “They also have a strong common interest in destroying countries and alliances that embody free values. Therefore, their main common interest is actually an ideology – they are trying to undermine the democratic and free West.”

A self-fulfilling prophecy?

The deepening of the relationship really worries the West. U.S. intelligence assessments listed China, Russia and their alliances as the greatest security threats to the United States and NATO. The Western Security Alliance was established in 1949 as a bastion against the Soviet Union. It plans to expand its focus to resolve Confronting the problems of the two countries.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in an interview with the London Financial Times last month that he does not believe that China and Russia are two different threats.

“China and Russia cooperate closely,” he said. “The whole idea of ​​separating China, Russia, Asia Pacific or Europe-this is a big security environment and we must solve all problems together.”

But some people say that this assessment is too simple and may lead to “serious errors.”

“There is no big conspiracy against the West,” Popolo, a former Australian diplomat and independent international relations analyst, said last month. “This is a typical relationship between great powers, which means it is driven by common interests rather than common values,” he said in a virtual conversation organized by the US-based Global Security Research Center.

Luo said that through mutual support, China and Russia have obtained “important dividends”, including strengthening the “legitimacy and stability of their respective regimes.” He added that defense cooperation enables Moscow to showcase Russia’s influence on the world stage, while Beijing can acquire Russia’s advanced military technology and combat experience.

After the sanctions were imposed after Crimea was annexed, this relationship also allowed Moscow to “fill the technological gap left by the withdrawal of Western companies from Russia.” “China’s investment in technology is critical to the realization of Russia’s Arctic LNG project,” Luo said.

Alexander Gabuev of the Carnegie Moscow Center agrees.

He said that the relationship between Russia and China was “driven by fundamental factors outside the control of the West,” and pointed out in a conversation in March that the two countries still have a border of 4,300 kilometers (2,672 miles). Because of the border conflict in 1969, “they knew how dangerous and expensive it is to be an enemy,” he said.

This is why, he said on Twitter last month that NATO claims that China and Russia are a challenge, “exaggerating the current level and nuances of Sino-Russian cooperation.”

He said that both countries “believe in their strategic autonomy.” And “mixing China and Russia into a quasi alliance that needs to be confronted through a unified tool, the West may create a self-fulfilling prophecy. When dual containment leads to further deepening of Sino-Russian cooperation, this will lead to more pressure from the United States.”

“False invaders”

For some, American pressure is the starting point.

“Both China and Russia believe that the United States is a hypocritical aggressor, intending to weaken them in order to maintain their hegemony,” said Einar Tangen, a political analyst in Beijing and a commentator for the Chinese state broadcaster CGTN.

He said that US actions in this regard include listing the two countries as the biggest national security threats, imposing sanctions on suspected violations of human rights, and establishing what Beijing and Moscow consider anti-Russian-China alliances.

These include Quad, an informal alliance led by the United States, including India, Japan and Australia. The organization was condemned by China as “Asian NATO” and it resumed naval exercises for the first time in 13 years last year. The four navies expanded the scope of their exercises this year and held them in the Philippine Sea and the Bay of Bengal in two phases.

Then there is the newly formed security alliance between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, called AUKUS. When the United States and the United Kingdom announced the trilateral agreement in September, they said Australia would acquire nuclear-powered submarines — analysts said this would allow the Australian Navy to patrol the disputed waters of the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait.

China condemned the alliance as an “extremely irresponsible” threat to regional stability, while Russia called it “a huge challenge to the international nuclear non-proliferation regime.”

“These [type of actions] It is inevitable that China and Russia will be encouraged to cooperate more closely to seek reciprocal responses to hostilities,” said Daniel Bochkov, an analyst at the Moscow-based Russian International Affairs Committee.

These responses include the recent Sino-Russian joint exercises near Japan and South Korea, both of which are allies of the United States.

Bochkov said that increasing competition is likely to lead to the re-emergence of rigid groups during the Cold War, with communities led by the United States on the one hand and China, Russia and their allies on the other.

He said: “This has caused a geopolitical deadlock, which seems to be insurmountable anyway,” he said. “By simultaneously testing each other’s’red lines’ with dangerous needle-like local confrontations, all powers can accumulate their own strength. To deal with the worst case.”

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