The videoconference between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian Vladimir Putin on December 12 resulted in consensus on six main areas of cooperation in a political climate of deteriorating relations with the United States. At the same time, the shadow of a mini-cold war between Russia and the United States has emerged mainly due to their strategic and military calculations over Ukraine.
The video meeting between President Xi and President Putin was politically significant. First of all, President Xi pointed out that some countries have waved the flag of “democracy” and “human rights” to intervene in the internal affairs of China and Russia and that China and the Russia should take joint action to protect their security. President Putin’s stance was that Sino-Russian relations have reached “an unprecedented better time” in which the two sides establish mutual trust strategically based on upholding the principles of mutual respect and non-interference in the internal affairs of China. the other.
Obviously, both sides disagree with how some Western democratic states are using their democratic values ââto criticize China and Russia. Ideologically, the Sino-Russian Friendship and Neighborhood Cooperation Treaty has been signed for 20 years and is still being extended. The two countries, as Putin said, are keen to fight the spread of Covid-19, maintain trade relations, strengthen technological cooperation and seek to maintain international peace.
The ideological affinity of China and Russia is consolidating at a time when Sino-American relations and Russian-American relations are simultaneously strained. US trade protectionism against China and its ideological critiques of domestic developments in China, including Xinjiang and Hong Kong, raised eyebrows in Beijing’s leadership.
Second, President Xi has outlined six areas for further cooperation with Russia: (1) the joint fight against the spread of Covid-19, including mutual cooperation in testing vaccines against Covid-19 variants and cross-border measures against the spread of the disease; (2) industrial cooperation in the fields of energy supply, technological development and renewable energy production; (3) promoting global sustainable development by 2030, including the development of new markets and assistance to developing countries; (3) strengthening regional cooperation, including consolidation of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and its spirit, in particular the need to strengthen collective security without allowing foreign forces to interfere with internal affairs SCO States; (4) promoting the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) and its multilateralism and open economy as well as cooperation in public health; and (5) strengthening the United Nations Security Council to fight Covid-19 and maintain world peace.
These six areas of cooperation have important implications for Sino-Russian relations. The two parties consider the fight against Covid-19 as a priority of their cooperative agenda. The issue of energy supply comes second, followed by sustainable development winning the hearts and minds of other developing countries. More importantly, the idea of ââconsolidating the collective security of the SCO has the implication of repelling any foreign intervention, while the closer cooperation of the BRICS countries and the Security Council means that the Sino-Russian coalition is more in addition politically and ideologically stronger than ever.
In response to the six areas of cooperation proposed by Xi, Putin’s reaction has been warm and positive, affirming the importance of collaboration in these areas while adding that Russia strongly supports the position of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). on the question of Taiwan.
Russia’s rapprochement with China comes at a time when Russian-American relations are rapidly deteriorating on the Ukrainian question. In early December, it was reported that US intelligence had discovered that Russia was amassing 175,000 troops along the Ukrainian border and that Russia might be “invading” Ukraine, which was politically drifting towards Western allies.
On December 18, Russia said it wanted to reach a legally binding agreement whereby the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) would renounce military reinforcement in Eastern European states, including the ‘Ukraine. Russian demands include Moscow’s veto over any future Ukraine membership in NATO – a demand Western states have already rejected. Even the Ukrainian government added that Ukraine has an “exclusive sovereign right” to determine its relations with NATO.
Under these circumstances, Ukraine must be a more âneutralâ buffer state in Russia’s eyes, but it has become a target for military assistance, and even âexpansion,â in the mind of the United States. The relatively tense relations between Russia and the United States on the Ukrainian question remain to be developed and resolved.
On the other hand, Russia and China have posed a military threat to Japan, from the point of view of Japanese strategic thinkers. In July 2021, a visit by Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Michoustine to the Kuril Islands, whose sovereignty remains contested between Russia and Japan, raised eyebrows in the Japanese government. On October 19, ten Russian and Chinese warships crossed the Tsugaru Strait, a narrow sea passage separating Hokkaido and Honshu. The growing strength of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in recent years has also been viewed by Tokyo as a military threat. Perceptions of a military threat have made the triangular relationship between Russia, China and Japan more complex than ever.
A recent remark by former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that any PLA “adventure” in Taiwan would lead to “a crisis for the US-Japan alliance” prompted an immediate response from the Chinese Foreign Ministry, which summoned the Japanese. Ambassador Hideo Tarumi saying that Abe’s comments were “extremely false”. It was reported that Deputy Foreign Minister Hua Chunying reminded the Japanese Ambassador of the previous Japanese military aggression against China.
Clearly, perceptions of military threats have been compounded by political mistrust that stems from the historical legacy of Sino-Japanese relations. On the other hand, the increasingly close military relations between Japan and the United States were also perceived by China and Russia as a real military threat.
The territorial dispute between Japan and China over Diaoyu Island (Senkaku Island in Japanese) remains a delicate issue for both parties to deal with. Fortunately, China and Japan have managed the island in more skillful and low-key ways, such as sending coastguard ships to patrol the waters near the island rather than deploying military warships too close to it. the disputed island.
Yet Japan’s recent stronger stance on Taiwan, whether through the government’s stance or remarks by parliamentarians, amid increasingly strained relations between Beijing and Taipei has put the PRC authorities in quite a bad way. ‘easy.
Objectively speaking, the question of Taiwan’s future has been exaggerated by many American observers, including military analysts, who have rehashed the same theme that the PLA’s “invasion” of the island republic would soon be and imminent. Nevertheless, such an assessment is usually based on highly subjective and speculative ideas rather than concrete evidence. The PLA’s growing military strength is one thing, but it is another matter of its “imminent invasion” of Taiwan. Perhaps some US analysts have deliberately exaggerated the PLA threat as a psychological ploy to have a “chilling” impact on PRC action.
The assessment of the PLA’s “imminent” “invasion” of Taiwan has systematically overlooked the fact that Beijing’s position on Taipei has remained unchanged. On the one hand, President Xi mentioned that the Chinese would not fight against the Chinese, but on the other hand, China will not give up the use of force to deal with Taiwan if the “separatist” elements there -lows get out of hand.
The warmer relations between Russia and China can perhaps help defuse the strained military relations between India and China along their long border. Occasional skirmishes between Indian and Chinese soldiers along the border have strained their diplomatic and military relations. Fortunately, perhaps, both sides of the military appear to be in control of their own armies in times of conflict and even death.
As Russia enjoys cordial relations with India and China, it can and will play a crucial mediating role in the event of serious tensions between India and China. However, on the other hand, India has relied on Russian military weapons to deter the Chinese military âthreatâ.
In conclusion, the ever-warmer relations between China and Russia are attributable not only to their ideological affinity vis-Ã -vis the ideological “hegemonic” threat of Western states, but also to the deterioration of relations between Russia and the United States. The United States on the one hand, and the complex relations between China and the United States on the other. Given the strong military alliance between the United States and Japan, the territorial dispute between Russia and Japan, the strained relations between Russia and the United States over Ukraine, and given the perception by Tokyo of the “Chinese threat” to Japan and Taiwan, the quadruple relations between China, Russia, the United States and Japan are naturally drawn into the shadow of a mini-cold war where the American alliance -Japanese clashes with the Sino-Russian coalition. At the moment, the balance of power between the two alliances remains relatively stable and calm. Time will tell how the complex quadruple relationship between China, Russia, the United States and Japan in the Asia-Pacific region unfolds.