Amid reports that China accuses the U.S. of illegally entering the South China Sea, U.S. hawks and military strategists worry that Russia’s close ties with China could evolve into a powerful military alliance against the U.S.
American geostrategists have noted the alarming rate at which Moscow and Beijing are strengthening their ties, while some U.S. doubt that such an alliance, which is often called the ‘Eurasian colossus’, has anything to counter the U.S. with.
However, other Western military strategists are urging the world to do something about the growing threat of the constantly evolving Sino-Russian relations.
But it’s not just U.S. geostrategists who are analyzing their possible future enemies. According to Lyle J. Goldstein, Associate Professor in the China Maritime Studies Institute (CMSI) at the US Naval War College in Newport, Chinese analysts are busy analyzing Western reports about Beijing and Moscow.
“Signs of a steadily enhancing Russia-China partnership are quite readily visible. Reciprocal visits by the two Presidents to observe one another’s victory celebrations (and the conspicuous lack of Western leaders at either event) seemed to demonstrate a shared contemporary isolation as well as the common history of suffering catastrophic losses in the enormous conflagration of the Second World War,” Professor Goldstein noted in his article for The National Interest.
China and Russia have been sharing political interests ever since the NATO intervention in Libya in 2011, as noted by professor Goldstein, citing Chinese geostrategists. And then the Arab Spring as well as the Ukrainian crisis have accelerated the rapprochement process “tremendously,” professor said.
The professor noted that a major evidence of the Dragon and the Bear seeing one another as top allies is the fact that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s first trip abroad after assuming the Russian Presidency again in 2012 was China. And then Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Russia as part of his inaugural journey in 2013.
Professor Goldstein also noted that both Beijing and Moscow have a “legacy of hostility and mistrust” dating back from the mid-Cold War period. And the professor added that this mistrust may become a stumbling block in further Sino-Russian cooperation.
The U.S. underestimates Sino-Russian alliance – Chinese analysts
According to the professor, Western geostrategists neglect a number of important aspects of the relations between China and Russia, failing to realize the significance of some historical events involving the two nuclear powers.
For example, Goldstein refers to Chinese research, and notes that “in a chapter of WWII that is rarely discussed in the West, this article explains that Moscow did impressively provide China with almost 1,000 aircraft (and accompanying volunteer pilots) in the four years after the Nanjing Massacre in December 1937.”
Also, what’s largely neglected by U.S. analysts is the fact that the USSR played a crucial role in the emergence of the Chinese Communist Party and the establishment of the People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949.
Back then, Soviet Russia supplied the Chinese Communists with weapons, hardware, technological and humanitarian aid in order to help the party win over the Kuomintang, which were supported by the U.S. diplomatically and militarily, during the Chinese Civil War.
Having analyzed Chinese research, the professor concluded that the Chinese regard U.S. analyses of China-Russia relations as “surficial in nature and also rather pessimistic.” Chinese analysts also noted that “the West is always aiming to ‘use China to pin down Russia and to employ Russia to pin down China …’,” Goldstein added.
“It is not at all clear, as is often suggested, that antagonism is the ‘natural state’ of affairs in China-Russia relations. The dual combination of the ‘rebalance,’ in tandem with the West’s still evolving strategic response to the Ukraine Crisis, may yet prove sufficient to solidify a geopolitically significant Eurasian counterpoise,” the professor concluded in his article.
Chinese and Russian nuclear capabilities combined are deadly
ValueWalk reported in September that China, Russia and the U.S. are the top three conventionally military powerful countries in the world out of 126 countries, according to the Global Firepower (GFP) database.
The GFP database was formed by considering the total amount of arms a country has, its dependence on natural resources, the state of the country’s economy, defense budget spending, geography as well as 50 other factors.
But it’s the nuclear capabilities of the three countries that are usually compared by Western analysts in order to predict a possible outcome of a war between the U.S. against Russia and China.
China has about 250 total nuclear warheads, but even though the number seems insignificant – especially when compared to the U.S. and Russia – Beijing still presents a huge challenge to Washington due to its technological and military progress.
How likely is U.S. vs. Russia-China war?
Meanwhile, it’s ally – Russia – has 1,582 strategic warheads deployed on 515 ICBMs, SLBMs, and strategic bombers, according to the March 2015 New START numbers.
The Federation of American Scientists previously estimated that Russia possesses a few thousand non-deployed nuclear strategic warheads and nearly 2,000 tactical nuclear warheads. On top of that, additional 3,200 are awaiting dismantlement.
The U.S., which has seen worsening relations with both China and Russia, possesses 1,597 strategic nuclear warheads deployed on 785 ICBMs, SLBMs, and strategic bombers, according to the March 2015 New START numbers.
Meanwhile, the Federation of American Scientists stated that the U.S. has nearly 2,800 warheads in its non-deployed strategic arsenal as well as 500 warheads in the U.S. tactical nuclear arsenal.
And according to the U.S. State Department, the U.S. had as many as 4,717 active nuclear warheads as of September 30, 2014. Other warheads are retired and are awaiting dismantlement.
So amid the news that China is accusing the U.S. of illegally entering the disputed South China Sea, how likely is a war between Moscow and Beijing on one side, and Washington on the other side?