“Putin and Xi stand up in St. Petersburg as a united front against Trump,” CNN declared bluntly, summarising the results of the SPIEF-2019 in terms of the China-Russia-USA triangle. Equally clear and sober assessments were expressed shortly after the forum by many other influential press outlets and authoritative commentators. There is a “Moment of Truth,” when everyone simultaneously opens his or her eyes and observes the true state of affairs in the world. A moment that is priceless in the midst of information wars and fake news waterfalls. A moment that is impossible to “drown” in caveats and reservations, which differs to global decision-makers, who consider delicacy the surest sign of weakness, writes Viktor Sumsky, Director of the ASEAN Center MGIMO University.
It is clear that the question of whether Moscow and Beijing are becoming allied, given their mutual interests, is not simple. The whole process of normalisation, and the progressive development of these relations over the last quarter of a century, reflects the understanding that the alliance the two countries concluded in the 1950s proved ultimately untenable. Then again, that experience need not be repeated, as it is not necessary to cooperate against any third party.
Is anyone proposing the revival today of the very model of interactions that Stalin and Mao “forged” 70 years ago? On the other hand, the thesis that Russian-Chinese relations have now reached an unprecedentedly high level does not indicate a degree of mutual understanding beyond what was achieved within the framework of “that alliance”. Should the stated moratorium on uniting forces against a third party be treated as a religious commandment that is good for all time?
The assessments from two seasoned Asian diplomats, who spoke to me separately, are sobering.