Relations between China, Russia and the U.S. sometimes remind people of the relations between a group of lions fighting for a large piece of meat and the power that comes along with it. With the growing strength of its economy and geopolitical role, Beijing can’t seem to decide which to be friends with: Moscow or Washington. Relations among the world’s three most influential powers have been a topic of discussion of many experts and analysts around the world.
After President of China Xi Jinping’s first official visit to the U.S. and negotiations with U.S. President Barack Obama, it’s hard to say whether we are about to see any warmth in the ties between Beijing and Washington. And according to Dr. Andrei Vinogradov, director of the Russian Center for Political Studies at the Institute of Far Eastern Studies, at the Russian Academy of Sciences, Xi’s visit to the U.S. raises more questions than answers.
“To deepen dialogue and cooperation in Asia-Pacific affairs,” to shape “major bilateral mechanisms like the Strategic and Economic Dialogue,” and to conduct international relations according to rules and laws – these were Xi’s general ideas, while “dialogue” is the keyword of Xi’s visit to Washington, Vinogradov believes.
Where China-U.S. interests contradict one another
Beijing is particularly interested in warm relations with Washington as it expands its reach into new fields, as Xi said himself during a forum in Seattle. With China firmly holding its ground in the South China Sea dispute, the political differences between the two countries could deepen further even though Beijing has repeatedly demonstrated its willingness to reach a compromise.
“For the Chinese strategy dialogue is the key concept: it is important to look for the solutions to political problems. For the European political mentality a solution must be found. We see here a background from a certain civilization,” Andrey Vinogradov told Gbtimes.
Xi’s visit to the U.S. brought up a number of controversial areas of interests between Washington and Beijing, such as cyber-security, a number of agreements about relations between the two countries’ military, the need to reach mutual trust and other fields that are often discussed in the media.
“It is not a failure. For China, starting a negotiation process is more than half the battle. China expertly uses its time resources, not grasping at straws for an immediate decision, but solving the problem slowly and gradually,” Vinogradov said.
Russia has greater chance to become friends with China than U.S. does
While we see that the relations between the U.S. and China have yet a lot to gain in terms of mutual trust and the ability to reach compromises, Russia has greater chance to become close friends with China, Vinogradov believes.
“If A is dialogue and B is the result, in the Russia-China relationship not only has A been pronounced, but also B has been said as well. A Russian-Chinese dialogue is established, and moreover, many specific problems, both economic and political, have already been solved as a result of this dialogue and despite the existing difficulties,” Vinogradov explained.
The foreign affairs expert claims that China has opted for a great strategy of political cooperation on the international scene. Beijing begins to speak out from the position of a growing world power, which is indicated by its support and solidarity with Russia’s position regarding some critical global issues such as the Syrian conflict and Western sanctions against Russia.
However, China still positions itself as an advocate for peace in the whole world and promotes the principles of peaceful settlement of conflicts and non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries. So as for the relations between Moscow and Beijing, the countries’ leaders clearly demonstrate how bilateral and mutually beneficial agreements can easily transform into real contracts.
“In fact, the overall relationship between China and Russia is really at a very high level – at the level of the effective interaction, which cannot be said about relations between China and the US,” Vinogradov concluded.
Growing influence of China
After two years of rapid economic growth, China once again looks for other countries in order to invest and trade, which is why the “Silk Road” term often appears in the media. The efforts to create a modern version of Silk Road has become one of the key policies of Xi Jinping.
It is widely believed that from economic, diplomatic and military points of view, the efforts to expand its influence onto other countries have great chances to secure China’s dominance in Asia. Some experts believe China is looking to create a new sphere of influence, the so-called modern Great Game, which was the term to describe the rivalry between Britain and Russia in central Asia during the 19th century.
Xi revealed some additional details of the plan to expand the country’s influence earlier this year when he announced that Beijing was allocating $46 billion for investments and lines of credit in the China-Pakistan economic corridor that leads to the Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea. In April, China also announced its intentions to allocate $62 billion from the country’s external reserves to three policy banks that will be financing the expanding of the new Silk Road.
No country in the world will refuse China’s offers
The project of the new Silk Road not only reflects the reality of China’s growing ambitions but also offers to take a look at how Beijing makes macroeconomic decisions nowadays. It was noted by many experts that China often makes hasty decisions, while Chinese officials often compete in ambiguous and contradictory claims.
As China expands its economic interests abroad, its military and all of its security forces will be playing the most important role in Beijing’s success. China does not have any military bases abroad and has repeatedly claimed that any interference in the internal affairs of other countries is wrong. However, China’s recent anti-terrorist draft legislation allows the stationing of Chinese troops on the territories of other countries without their consent.
China’s large-scale investments may raise concerns regarding its potential political dominance following economic dominance, as it happened in Myanmar and Sri Lanka. But nonetheless, Beijing has high hopes that no country in the world will be able to refuse its seductive offers to invest large amounts of money.