The China-Russia Partnership: A Strategic Headache for the United States

Napoleon Bonaparte, a prominent figure in the history of Europe and a great French Monarch, writes that “there are two forces that unite men: fear and interest.” These are key factors that urged the policymakers to be embodied through diplomacy and cooperation in order to pursue their premeditated national interests. By inculcating these two factors in mind, both China and Russia are coming close to each other and building a strong partnership. For instance, Jens Stoltenberg, the Secretary General of NATO, says in his statement that China and Russia are working more closely and building a stronger partnership; they also coming close in the military domain. Obviously, this approach will be beneficial for them in getting their geo-strategic, geopolitical, and geo-economic interests. Such an attitude would create a harsh environment for the United States and its allies, because building a strong partnership between Beijing and Moscow can counter the dominance of the U.S. in this region and abroad. Both Xi and Putin believe that the disorder and chaos that the world has experienced have been gifted to the globe by the U.S.’s unipolar moment in the last two or more decades. At the same time, this partnership will bring about affirmative aftermaths for Asia in terms of sustaining security, promoting trade, and also cooperating in other fields, including science, technology, and economy. Russia’s persistent support of China may help further intensify China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), as a result, it will provide an opportunity to approach the international market.

Sustaining this strong relationship can make them more close to each other in attending to their common interests. From Beijing’s perspective, Russia plays an important role in preserving China’s economic growth and pursuing its geo-strategic interests. They highlight Russia’s assistance in military technology as well. On the other hand, Russian diplomats believe that partnership with China provides opportunities to own their core national interests. The above-mentioned perspectives examine that the bilateral approach is beneficial for both. Here are a few ways through which China can get benefits from this relationship: first, it is stated that Russia braces China’s core interests through continuous cooperation and a bilateral approach. For instance, both leaders claim that a bilateral relationship has no limitations and no forbidden areas of cooperation. Moscow’s membership in Shanghai Cooperation Organization and its pertinent support to China’s BRI imparts an opportunity for China to engulf its interests in one way or another. Second, having a strong partnership with Russia can help China enhance its military power through joint-military exercises. For example, according to the Chinese Military’s official report in 2022, both China and Russia did around 80 joint-military exercises in the last Year. Third, Russia assists China in meeting significant economic and energy needs. For instance, in the last two decades, annual trade between Beijing and Moscow has increased from just 8 billion dollars to 147 billion dollars. Fourth, Russia helps expand China’s global influence by making strong allies and support in all fields. Last but not least, Russian President Vladimir Putin personally supports Xi and his key initiatives. Chinese President Xi Jinping called him “a best friend and colleague.”

Nonetheless, the close ties between Beijing and Moscow will create hard lines for the U.S. and its allies in terms of integrating their economies and preserving their geo-strategic and geopolitical interests in the world. For example, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), published by World Economic Forums in 2022, China is the second largest economy in the world with an estimated GDP of 19.9 trillion dollars; Russia, on the other hand, is 11th largest economy in the world with an estimated GDP of 2.0 trillion dollars. Along with this, both China and Moscow are making significant efforts to counter the U.S.’s legacy of influence and promote a multilateral approach that allows all states to safeguard their core interests. For instance, Xi and Putin’s initiative, “Bringing Back Balance and Order” (B3O), aims to overcome the United States’ unipolar moment. At the same time, China’s visible and continuous support of Russia may help in getting triumph in the Ukraine-Russia war. As a result, such conduct will counter U.S. interests in Eastern Europe. 

Here, the question arises: Can China rein in Russia’s aggressive military approach to maintain their strong bilateral relationship in the future? Would it really be a nightmare for the U.S. and its allies in Asia and outside?

[Photo by the Russian Presidential Press and Information Office, via Wikimedia Commons]

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.

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