As China and Russia continued to collaborate, A new report from the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) suggests that Russian technology is playing a significant role in the development of China’s military. In particular, Russian technology has contributed to the ability of the Chinese government to deliver surface warfare, and these capabilities could now include long-range precision strikes.
China expands naval power
Additionally, the CSIS report suggests that the development of Chinese naval capabilities under the auspices of Russian technology has been able to ensure that Chinese naval vessels can fully defend themselves against United States airstrikes and long-range missile attacks. The overall picture painted is one of rapidly developing Chinese proficiency in this area, and of the continuing relationship between Russia and China playing a significant part in the development of both nations military capabilities.
This report is not exactly revolutionary with regard to this assertion, as other sources have previously suggested similar perspectives. However, the CSIS report does give an excellent overview of Chinese and Russian arms and technology sharing, with this process playing a particularly large role in propping up the Chinese naval fleet in particular.
It is asserted by the CSIS report that this collaboration between China and Russia is enabling the world’s most populous nation to significantly expand its burgeoning capability in the Western Pacific. China has been particularly emboldened with its military manoeuvres and foreign policy in recent months and years, and this has been particularly succinctly illustrated in hawkish South China Sea policy.
According to reports, the United States is monitoring the situation in the South China Sea extremely closely, as the Washington government becomes increasingly concerned about China’s activities in the region. It is suggested by some sources, though, that the US government is not in a particularly strong position to respond assertively to China’s conduct in the South China Sea region, even though diplomatic statements from the Washington administration have increasingly veered away from neutrality.
Although the United States, Russia and China were able to coexist relatively peacefully in drafting the recent nuclear agreement related to Iran, the rivalry between the three nations ensures that there will always be a certain amount of diplomatic tension. Certainly the historic relationship between Russia and the United States is one of extreme terseness, and although the nature of relations between the two nations has thawed somewhat, this trend has certainly reversed in recent years.
Russia’s conduct in the Ukraine has been of particular concern to the United States, but by the same token Russia has been extremely critical of the behavior of the US administration in the region, not to mention with regard to several other issues. It seems that that the Russian and United States governments simply cannot see eye-to-eye at the moment, and this report from the CSIS will really exacerbate this process.
It is clear that Russian air-defence technology, such as long-range sensors and anti-ship cruise missile (ASCM) systems have played a crucial role in the ability of China to defend itself, and increasingly go on the offensive as well. This must be seen as part of an overall strategy between the two nations to cement closer ties, as both China and Russia play andinstrumental role in the so-called BRICS nations.
While military endeavours will always generate headlines, that BRICS nations and their collective agenda can in fact be most readily viewed as an economic ethos. Both Russia and China have demanded greater representation in global economic institution such as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, and China, Russia, India, Brazil and South Africa have even threatened to set up their own central bank to circumnavigate the existing Bank for International Settlements system.
Meanwhile, the CSIS report indicates that both China and Russia now have the ability to deploy offensive weaponry against the United States. New Chinese and Russian-derived ASCM systems, coupled with long-range sensors, can now threaten medium-sized naval U.S. surface ships, and even potentially strike U.S. military installations.
Russia-China relationship endures
Although Russian military exports to China have in fact declined steadily since 2006, there is no doubt that they should still be viewed as considerable. The decline in fact can be largely attributed to the expansion of China’s proprietary defense industry, but there are also technical issues related to Beijing’s illicit reverse engineering activities that have influenced this figure.
But the importance of the relationship between China and Russia should not be underestimated. The CSIS report indicates that China is increasingly independent from Russia in terms of the manufacturing of cruise missiles, but that the most advanced ASCM missiles contained within the Chinese stock are still manufactured in Russia.
The surface fleet located in China also relies strongly on Russian-manufactured technology in order to provide advanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. The report emphasizes that were it not for the collaboration between China and Russia then the East Asian superpower would be forced to rely on inferior legacy systems. This could be critical for China, as the nation would be left at a significant disadvantage in the battle for situational awareness that is critical in contemporary naval battlespace.
While China is certainly working on its internal munitions manufacturing capabilities, and thus closing the gap on Russian military technology, there is equally no doubt that the two nations still enjoy something of a symbiotic relationship in this area. And there are still many areas of military endeavors where Beijing could benefit significantly from cooperation with its most obvious ally.
China lags behind in anti-submarine warfare, and this is known to be a historical weakness of the nation. Russia is particularly associated with submarines, and has considerably more experience in conducting such operations against the United States and other advanced targets. It is therefore expected by the writers of the report that Russia and China will continue to extend their military collaboration, as the two allies attempts to provide a buttress to American power in the evolving world order.