It’s curious that references to a major Asian power can be found in Bible prophecies that foretell in Revelation 16:12 that “the kings of the east” must come. Basically, this means that China is going to play a major role in the end of time event that quite possibly will be a nuclear holocaust also know WWIII.
It’s impossible to tell what makes Western think tanks freak out more – the above mentioned prophecy or the fact bilateral cooperation between China and Russia is advancing in giant leaps, which forces Washington into rethinking its approach towards these two major geopolitical players. Analysts would point out for decades that close bilateral ties between Moscow and Beijing could be just shrugged off.
It’s been pointed out that the prevailing wisdom in Washington and Brussels these days is that China and Russia are incapable of forming a permanent and lasting alliance. They argue that obstacles standing in the way of this scenario are numerous and complicated, as Russia and China have undergone periods of mutual animosity over the course of their history and there’s also an inevitable clash of interests that those two aren’t going to escape. Or at least we are being told so.
However, those observations are far-fetched and may serve as a perfect example of wishful thinking that is common for apologists of the Western international order. The new year is shaping up to be a momentous one for cooperation between Russia and China, as the two Asian giants work to form ever-deeper bonds across a wide range of areas.
It is clear that the ties between Russia and China have gone past the point when they still could be described as a forced cooperation, as we’re clearly dealing with an unofficial alliance. As it’s been stated by Modern Diplomacy, although they never forge formal alliance in the classical terms, the two countries have actually established strategic partnership covering all of the essential features that allies would want to get covered.
There’s distinctive signs that China and Russia have come to grips with the benefits of working in close cooperation with each other a long while ago. Due to Washington’s relentless efforts both of these states are facing similar economic challenges and border security concerns, which provides enough momentum for their interests to converge.
In fact, the Foreign Affairs would state that:
The deepening of military ties between these two former rivals is real, and a stronger strategic partnership between Beijing and Moscow could, given time, upend a half century of US military planning and strategy.
Washington’s desperation that results in the determination to preserve the so-called hegemony over the rest of the globe resulted in the two Asian giants now holding military games together. Since 2003, they have already held 30 joint military exercises, with the most notorious one of those being Vostok 2018 when 3,500 Chinese troops participated in the exercises that Moscow hosted. Moreover, China has recently become Russia’s weapons industry’s biggest and most reliable customer.
However, the excessive amount of pressure that the West applies on those states is hardly the only driver behind the rapid rapprochement between Moscow and Beijing, as those two are economically interdependent. Russia is primarily an exporter of raw materials and tends to lack access to both advanced industrial technologies and capital. China, on the other hand, is a vast consumer of commodities, particularly oil and gas, and at the same time has an abundance of capital to invest abroad.
As it’s been announced by China’s General administration of customs, last year the total bilateral trade turnover exceeded 100 billion dollars. Russia’ prime minister, while commenting on these numbers, announced that:
Ten years ago we couldn’t have imagined this but now we can even aim at 200 billion dollars.
And that’s hardly an exaggeration as in the closing days of the last year Moscow and Beijing concluded a number of agreements on mutual cooperation in such fields as energy, agriculture, space programs. In Shanghai, at the China International Import Expo, the two giants signed four more contracts on the construction of new reactors at the Tianwan Nuclear Power Plant along with the agreement on assistance Russia was going to provide China with the construction of a fast-neutron reactor CFR-60. Last year’s Airshow China has also shown that the successful conclusion of contracts on the supply of Russia’s state of the art S-400 and Su-35 left China hungry for more military technologies, as three more contracts were signed immediately after the announcement that Russia fulfilled all of its obligations to its neighbor.
However, Washington’s overall hostility towards the two Asian giants shouldn’t be downplayed whenever the rapidly improving Russian-Chinese ties are being discussed. It’s noteworthy that Washington’s National Security Strategy lumped China and Russia together for “attempting to erode American security and prosperity,” as did the Department of Defense’s new Cyber Strategy.
But it doesn’t seem that Washington is running scared due to Russia’s and China’s military superiority over the US, as Asian states are generally peace-loving, especially in comparison with certain Western states. It seems that the US cannot stomach the fact that its formally uncontested media primacy is now eroding away. For instance, Japan has recently expressed its concern that due to the nature of their rapprochement Russia and China will soon find themselves at the helm of the global media coverage. The two Asian giants have successfully implemented some four hundred joint media projects, while facilitating international contacts between young journalists through comprehensive internships. Even today, China’s viewers are capable of watching Russia’s national TV stations live with Chinese subtitles.
That’s why it’s curious that a private American intelligence company that is commonly known as Stratfor in a series of its studies presented a rather gloomy evaluation of the rapid rapprochement between China and Russia, as it leaves the United States far behind. The final conclusion reached by the analysts of this private body was that the rapprochement between the Russian Federation and China would allow those states to keep chipping away at the US-led global international order.
Jean Périer is an independent researcher and analyst and a renowned expert on the Near and Middle East, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook“.