Russia and China have had a complex relationship throughout history, marked by periods of both cooperation and rivalry. In recent years, their relationship has grown increasingly close, driven by mutual interests in economic and strategic cooperation. This article will explore the history of Russia-China relations, the current state of their relationship, and the implications of their partnership for global politics.
The relationship between Russia and China can be traced back to the 17th century, when Russia and the Qing Dynasty began to interact. At the time, both countries were expanding their empires, and they saw each other as potential allies against common enemies, such as the Ottoman Empire and the Mongols. However, as both empires grew in size and power, their interests began to diverge, leading to a series of border conflicts and tensions.
During the Cold War, China and the Soviet Union were supposed to be allies, sharing a communist ideology and a common enemy in the United States. However, their relationship was marked by tensions and rivalry, with each country vying for dominance in the communist world. The relationship between the two countries reached a low point in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when China accused the Soviet Union of “revisionism” and “imperialism” and began to pursue a more independent foreign policy.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia and China began to reevaluate their relationship. Initially, China was wary of Russia, seeing it as a weakened power that could no longer be relied upon as an ally. However, as Russia began to recover in the 2000s, the two countries began to forge closer ties.
Today, Russia and China are strategic partners, cooperating in a range of economic, political, and military spheres. One of the key drivers of their relationship is their shared opposition to the United States, which both countries see as a hegemonic power that seeks to undermine their interests. In recent years, Russia and China have increasingly aligned their foreign policies, coordinating their positions on issues such as Syria, North Korea, and Iran.
One of the most significant areas of cooperation between Russia and China is energy. Russia is one of the world’s largest oil and gas producers, while China is the world’s largest energy consumer. As such, the two countries have a natural economic partnership, with Russia supplying energy to China through pipelines and other infrastructure projects. In 2019, China became Russia’s largest trading partner, with bilateral trade reaching $110 billion.
In addition to economic cooperation, Russia and China have also developed a close military relationship. In recent years, the two countries have held joint military exercises, with both countries sending their navies and air forces to participate. The two countries have also worked together to develop new weapons systems, such as the S-400 air defense system, which Russia has sold to China.
Implications for Global Politics
The growing partnership between Russia and China has significant implications for global politics. One of the most significant implications is that it strengthens the position of both countries vis-à-vis the United States. By cooperating with each other, Russia and China are able to challenge the United States in areas where it has traditionally held the balance of power, such as the Middle East and Asia-Pacific.
Another implication of the Russia-China partnership is that it could lead to the creation of a new geopolitical order. For decades, the United States has been the dominant global power, shaping the world order to suit its interests. However, the rise of China and the resurgence of Russia challenge this order, potentially leading to a new multipolar world in which no single country holds hegemonic power.
The Russia-China partnership also has implications for regional security. In Asia, for example, the two countries have increasingly aligned their positions, challenging the traditional U.S. dominance in the region. China’s growing military power and territorial ambitions in the South China Sea have raised concerns among its neighbors and the United States. Russia’s support for China’s position in the South China Sea and its joint military exercises with China in the region have added to these concerns.
The Russia-China partnership also has implications for global governance. Both countries have criticized the existing international order, which they see as dominated by Western powers. They have advocated for a more multipolar world order that takes into account the interests of emerging powers such as themselves. This has led to tensions with the United States and its allies, who see this as a challenge to the existing global governance system.
Despite their growing partnership, Russia and China have different interests and priorities. Russia is primarily concerned with maintaining its strategic position in Europe and the Middle East, while China is focused on its economic and strategic interests in Asia. This could lead to tensions between the two countries in the future, especially if their interests begin to diverge.
The relationship between Russia and China also has implications for other countries, especially those that are caught between the two powers. In Central Asia, for example, Russia and China have been competing for influence, with Russia seeing the region as part of its traditional sphere of influence and China seeking to expand its economic and strategic ties. Other countries, such as India, Japan, and the ASEAN states, are also closely watching the growing partnership between Russia and China and considering their own responses.
The partnership between Russia and China is one of the most significant developments in global politics in recent years. It has the potential to reshape the global order, challenge the dominance of the United States, and affect regional security in Asia and beyond. However, it also has the potential to create tensions and conflicts between the two powers and to affect other countries caught in the middle. As such, it is important for policymakers to carefully consider the implications of this partnership and to develop strategies for managing its effects on global politics.
[Photo by Kremlin.ru, via Wikimedia Commons]