Will China-Russia relations open? experts weigh in

As the saying goes, there are no permanent friends and no permanent enemies, only permanent interests. And while China is not a party to the conflict in Ukraine, perhaps no country has been more scrutinized for its ties with Russia.

On February 4, three weeks before Vladimir Putin ordered his troops into Ukraine, the Russian president was in Beijing, shoulder to shoulder with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, to confirm his alignment against the West.

This was followed by a 5,000-word joint statement in which he declared the China-Russia partnership to be one with “no boundaries”, “no prohibited zones” of cooperation. At a time when Russian forces were gathering on Ukraine’s borders, the bond raised concern in European capitals—and sounded alarm bells after the invasion began.

The West is troubled by what the West sees as China’s tacit support for Russia by refusing to condemn Moscow four months into the war. It has accused Beijing of repeating the Kremlin’s line against NATO, military aid to Kyiv and resisting sanctions on Russia, despite Chinese officials’ insistence they support Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Following the West’s sweeping punishments against the Russian economy, US officials, including Pentagon policy chief Colin Kahl, see few options for Moscow other than to arm itself with Beijing.

To be sure, China sees its relationship with Russia—one with enough strength to support Beijing in meaningful ways—is also geostrategicly important. Together, experts see a joint effort to degrade the US-led liberal system and replace it with a more amenable one to the authoritarian system.

But this alignment, which Beijing says is based on “non-aligned, non-confrontational and third-party non-targeting”, could come at the cost of China’s important trade ties with North America and Europe, which together make up more than half. GDP of the world.

Meanwhile, Russia benefits from growing ties with the world’s busiest market. Russia has also increased its financial dependence on China since its invasion of Ukraine. Without Russia, China could find itself isolated in its systemic rivalry with the United States, which spans every area from trade and technology to diplomacy and military power.

Russia has said that relations with China are a foreign policy priority. Its foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said this month that bilateral ties remained “truly inexhaustible potential”.

Putin said in a recent call with Xi that relations were at an “all-time high” and were improving steadily. The two countries will seek to further develop their defense ties, he said, adding that Northeast Asia has a dynamic potential to change the makeup of regional security.

China argues that it has partnered with Russia to “protect the United Nations-centred international system”. However, not everyone is convinced that their goals will remain aligned in the future.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping pose during their meeting on February 4, 2022 in Beijing, China. After forming an alliance before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, experts are divided over whether Sino-Russia relations will endure for a long time.
Alexey Druzhinin / Sputnik / AFP via Getty Images

A poll published on Monday foreign Affairs The magazine asked international relations analysts about the prospects of Sino-Russian relations becoming permanent in the long run. Dozens of subject-matter experts ranked the likelihood of consistent alignment on a scale from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree” and confidence in their position from 1 to 10.

“Maintaining good bilateral relations is an obvious practical option for both China and Russia, as they share similar views on global governance and their economies are quite complementary,” said Svetlana Krivokhiz, an associate professor in the Department of Asian and African Studies at HSE University. Huh.” in Moscow.

“However, whether the two countries will be able to manage the growing asymmetry in their relations in the coming years is a matter of great uncertainty,” he said, agreeing that the ties would remain with a confidence level of 7.

Bonnie Lin, director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), agreed that the relationship between the two countries would continue with a confidence level of 8.

“As US-Chinese competition intensifies, China sees more value in deepening ties with Russia as a closer strategic partner. Even if Russia is significantly weakened by the conflict in Ukraine, Beijing may believe that Russia may regain some of its power in the coming decades,” Lin said.

Bonnie Glaser, director of the Asia program at the German Marshall Fund for the United States, agreed with 9’s confidence level.

“Although not all Chinese and Russian interests coincide, both Beijing and Moscow seek to undermine US global dominance and adjust the international system so it is more conducive to their shared interests,” she said. “This is unlikely to change for the foreseeable future.”

Jude Blanchett, the Freeman Chair in China Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, strongly agrees that the relationship will hold with a confidence level of 10.

“There is no other major power that shares the broad worldview of Beijing and Xi as Russia and Putin. This has not changed in the wake of Putin’s disastrous war against Ukraine and explains why, even now, Beijing is against Moscow. refuses to condemn the actions,” he said.

Will China-Russia Relations Fade Away?
Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin after a signing ceremony during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Qingdao, Shandong, China June 10, 2018. After forming an alliance before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, experts are divided over whether Sino-Russia relations will last long.
Wang Zhao / AFP via Getty Images

for respondents foreign Affairs Voting was divided. With a confidence level of 8, Wang Jie, president of the School of International Studies at Peking University in Beijing, strongly disagreed that the long-term alignment between the two countries would prevail.

“An alignment or friendship is sustainable only when both sides not only show their solidarity but can discuss their disagreements openly and openly. The Sino-Soviet alliance in the 1950s was described as ‘unbreakable’ and ‘seamless’. The claim was made.” But when their differences opened up, friendship soon turned into enmity.”

Alina Polyakova, chair of the Center for European Policy Analysis, also disagreed with the view that Russian-Chinese relations would run with a confidence level of 9.

“The Russian-Chinese relationship is not a durable alliance, but, rather, a partnership without substance. Russia’s disastrous war in Ukraine has left Beijing in a difficult position: its economic interests lie with the West and that of Russia’s pariah state.” Not helping relations with the situation. West. Somebody has to give,” she said.

Feng Yujun, Professor and Vice Dean at the Institute of International Studies, “The gap between the broad national power of China and Russia is widening day by day, Russia has a strong concern about China, and China and Russia have different national identities. Fudan University in Shanghai wrote.

“China’s development has been achieved within the current international order, which Russia strongly seeks to overturn,” Fang said, disagreeing with the 9’s confidence level.

Nadezhda Arbatova, a professor who heads the Department of European Political Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences, is also in disagreement, with a confidence level of 10.

“Not long ago, a top Chinese official said, ‘China has the largest population in the world and Russia has the largest territory in the world. We complement each other organically.’ Most likely it was meant as an optimistic forecast,” she said. “However, later, these words were removed from the record, as their meaning could be interpreted as a frightening prospect for Russia.

“Indeed, it implies very real future problems in the relations between the two neighboring countries. Despite the fact that Russia and China are portraying their relations as virtually an alliance (‘strategic partnership’), in fact They are only situational partners.” he said.

“The current Russian-Chinese closeness is based on their international conflicts with the United States-led ‘collective West’. Furthermore, the Russian and Chinese domestic system is opposed to Western liberal democracy. Nevertheless, Russia was originally from European culture. belongs, which at present goes through ‘Eurasian’ aberration. Sooner or later it will return to its European occupation, regardless of all national peculiarities. Its anti-Westernism will be abandoned as an ideology,” Arbatova he said.

“In contrast, China is an embodiment of genuine Asian culture and nationalism striving for global expansion as a superpower of the 21st century. This means longstanding disputes with China’s close and distant neighbours.”

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