Potential for Relations in the China-Russia-US Triangle


The potential of trilateral relations between Russia, China and the United States was discussed by participants of the second session of the “China and Russia: Facing Challenges of Global Shifts” conference, held on April 4-5 by the Valdai Discussion Club in cooperation with the Center for Russian Studies at the East China Normal University. Given the important role that each country plays in the modern world order, the topic is extremely relevant for maintaining stability and further positive development of international cooperation in general.

Andrey Bezrukov, Associate Professor at the MGIMO University, stressed that at the moment the United States is in the formation process of a new political elite, which can affect the change of the general political background. The new US elites have more experience in the Middle East region than in relations with Russia and China, which requires time to work out a new political course. According to Bezrukov's forecast, Washington intends to concentrate on mobilizing domestic resources for the restructuring of industry, science and the military infrastructure in order to seize the leading position in the future world order. To prevent the excessive dependence of Russia and China on the US in the economic, financial and political fields, Andrei Bezrukov proposed the establishment of a new reserve system that does not depend on America's political moods.

However, according to Feng Yujun, Professor of the Center for Russia and Central Asia Studies, Fudan University, the "two against one" format is not profitable for either side. Economic partnership is too important for China's relations with the United States, so that they must be taken into account, while the imbalance grows in the investment cooperation between China and Russia. The possibility of tripartite cooperation is seen by Professor Feng only in the form of three separate bundles. As a promising area of ​​cooperation, Feng Yujing selected the creation of a platform for interaction between scientists, nuclear deterrence against the DPRK, as well as cooperation in countering international terrorism.

Andrey Kortunov, Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), supported the importance of cooperation in the nuclear field. He noted that it is of fundamental importance for Russia, China and the United States to stabilize the situation in Afghanistan, and to support the 5 + 1 Group on the Iranian nuclear issue. The continuation of consultations on the reduction of missile defense with the involvement of third countries, in particular the participants in the so-called "Nuclear Club", could also become promising for each of the three powers. Andrey Kortunov raised the issue of the definition of the "post-western world order" and its international institutions, such as the UN and the international legal system. Kortunov wondered whether to consider them Western or universal.

Alexander Lukin, Head of the Department of International Relations of the Higher School of Economics and Director at the Center for East Asian and Shanghai Cooperation Organization Studies at Moscow State Institute of International Relations noted that currently the United States should play the defining role in creating trilateral cooperation, and the first step should be the new administration creating a foreign policy strategy. Potential steps for improving Russia-US relations could include de-escalation of the conflict in Ukraine and Washington ceasing to support the Ukrainian establishment, which is not fulfilling the Minsk agreements. At the same time, Lukin considers American influence worsening China-Russia relations unlikely, noting the lack of an ideological basis in Chinese foreign policy and therefore, stronger ties with Russia.

Timofey Bordachev, Programme Director of the Valdai Discussion Club, noted that trilateral relations are already a reality that is reckoned with and discussed. He added that the difficulty of improving Russia-US relations is the result of a lack of common interests and opportunities that the sides could offer each other.

Read summaries of all sessions of the Russian-Chinese conference

Session 1. Transformation of the Political and Economic World Around Us: Opportunities and Threats for China and Russia

Session 2. Potential for Relations in the China-Russia-US Triangle

Session 3. Cybersecurity and the Cybersphere

Session 4. Situational Dynamics in the “Shared Neighborhood” Countries around Russia and China

Session 5. Energy Market Dynamics: Conclusions for Russia and China

Session 6. Economic Cooperation as Essential Constituent of Comprehensive Sino-Russian Partnership

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