The emergence of China has prompted the U.S. to shift its focus to Asia Pacific under its “Asia Pivot” strategy. But unfazed China continues to expand its geopolitical influence and military power, challenging the United States’ position as the world’s superpower. Meanwhile, economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. and its allies have prompted Russia to move closer to Asian countries to alleviate the impact of sanctions.
Sino-Russian ties at their ‘historic best’
Earlier this month when Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi visited Russia, he received a warm welcome. President Vladimir Putin said Sino-Russian ties were at their “historic best.” China has openly supported Russia against the Western powers in Ukraine crisis. Beijing also asked the West to “abandon the zero-sum mentality” with Moscow.
The two countries have been in a honeymoon since last year, says Want China Times. Last year, the two countries signed a landmark 30-year-long gas deal valued at $400 billion. They also conducted a joint military exercise in the East China Sea the same year. However, there are a number of differences between the two countries.
For instance, Russia has a strong military cooperation with Vietnam, which is locked in a dispute with China. Beijing was a bit annoyed when Russia sold the highly-advanced Kilo-class submarines to Vietnam. Meanwhile, Kremlin fears that China’s New Silk Road economic corridor across Central Asia may be a threat to Russia’s influence in the region. It will be interesting to see how the personal chemistry of Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin elevates bilateral relationships between China and Russia.
A win-win relationship for China and Russia
China’s open-door policy and Russia’s increased focus on Asia have started showing signs of a strategic convergence. By inching closer to China, Russia has alleviated the pressure of economic sanctions from the U.S. and EU. On the other hand, China is acquiring highly advanced Russian military technology and weapons.
By strengthening their ties, China and Russia are bound to challenge the unipolar world order dominated by Washington. Russia’s great power expertise and China’s economic might are fully capable of countering the U.S. if they come together.