The U.S. has little time to come up with a well-defined plan on what to do about the relations between Russia and China that are getting more intimate by the second.
Some experts, including a well-known expert on politics Joseph Nye, believe that the warming relations between Beijing and Moscow is “a marriage of convenience” based on mutual distrust, as cited by Pravda.ru.
At the same time, Princeton’s Gilbert Rozman believes that the rapprochement may lead to a “new, post-Cold War geopolitical order.” Rozman and other experts who support this notion claim that China and Russia are building a durable alliance, which is going to challenge U.S. global dominance.
However, both of the opinions exaggerate the reality, which presents something in the middle. The fact that some of the interests of China and Russia do not align doesn’t create any obstacles for a cooperation between them, and this cooperation is getting broader every day.
As it was recently reported by ValueWalk, the Russian and Chinese navies will hold their largest joint military drills called ‘Joint Sea 2015 (II)’ to take place from tomorrow (August 20) through August 28.
The drills will be held in the Sea of Japan and is an extension of Joint Sea-2015 (I), which was the naval drills held by the two countries in the Mediterranean Sea back in May. Japan, the U.S. ally in Asia, is on full alert about the exercises being so close to its shores.
The week-long exercises will involve seven Chinese warships, five warplanes, six shipborne helicopters, 21 amphibious vehicles and 200 marines. From the Russian side, there will be 12 naval aircraft, 20 battleships, nine amphibious vehicles, two submarines and 200 marines.
It must be noted that the Chinese Navy has not conducted any military drills in this area before. Over the past decade, Beijing and Moscow have held five major joint military drills.
Strategic foolishness of the U.S.
As for the economic cooperation, China and Russia recently announced they will unite China’s Silk Road Economic Belt with Russia’s Eurasian Economic Union in order to fully integrate Eurasia.
Authors of the article cited by Pravda.ru note that some aspects of the cooperation between Moscow and Beijing pose certain threats to the U.S. For example, both countries support the notion of “cyber sovereignty,” which tightens the grip of the governments over Internet activity in their territories, thus destroying the notion of “free and open Internet.”
In addition to that, the fact that Russia is delivering modern S-400 surface-to-air missile systems to China can disrupt plans of the U.S. military in the Asian-Pacific region.
However, it’s not only bad from the relations between the two countries, as both of them greatly contributed to successfully reach the nuclear deal with Iran. Besides, the U.S. needs both Moscow and Beijing to monitor the fulfillment of the deal from Iran’s end.
In addition, Russia and China promise to collaboratively engage in the economic development of Asia, which, in the broad sense, would benefit the whole world, not only U.S. interests.
Therefore, the warming relations between the two powers is quite ambiguous for the U.S. And officials sitting in Washington understand that, which is why they cannot come up with a well-defined political course. As John Mearsheimer, international relations theorist, said in one of his interview, “driving the Russians into the arms of the Chinese…is strategic foolishness of the first order,” as cited by Pravda.ru.
China and Russia will likely fight for the influence in Asia
According to Mearsheimer, Washington shouldn’t apply pressure to neither Moscow nor Beijing individually to not let them tighten their ties. The U.S. doesn’t have any “attractive incentive” to breach the partnership between the two counties, the expert noted.
“Instead of trying to break up the two powers, the U.S. goal should be to provide the opportunities and space for China and Russia to create distance between themselves. This means not opposing – and even tacitly encouraging – each power’s efforts to extend its influence in the other’s backyard,” political experts in the article noted.
No matter how many times Beijing and Moscow officials have stated how eager both of the sides are to unite Russia’s Eurasian Economic Union with China’s Silk Road Economic Belt, at some point of their cooperation, Russia will most likely start worrying about China getting deep into Russia’s areas of influence in Central Asia.
As of today, the non-formal agreement that Russia handles security matters in the region, while China leads its economic development, is still taking place.
However, as China’s influence in the region continues to grow, local governments will most likely try to take advantage over some differences between China and Russia, which will eventually result in more open and more frequent disputes between the two countries.
What U.S. should and should NOT do about China and Russia
What the U.S. shouldn’t do is it shouldn’t get involved in this process, the regional competition will do its thing. Also, Washington shouldn’t engage in a confrontation against Russia and China in Eurasia.
Instead, the U.S. should let Beijing and Moscow to compete with one another while helping the world to counter terrorism, on the fight against which the U.S. has thrown so much resources and energy. At the same time, the more resources and energy China and Russia will throw into Central and South Asia, the less they will have for Europe and Eastern Asia.
However, the U.S. shouldn’t stop paying attention to the region currently dominated by China and Russia. Instead, it should carefully watch the developments in the region and be ready for signs that would allow to give birth to differences between the two countries.