Economic Statecraft
More Than an Alliance: Russia and China Together Are Able to Destroy NATO

Russian-Chinese relations are today more than ever a popular topic of discussion in the expert community and political circles. As a rule, these discussions come down to the prospects for the formation of a military-political alliance aimed at confronting the US and its satellites, writes Andrey Gubin, PhD, an Associate Professor of Political Science at the Far Eastern Federal University and an Associate Professor of the Northeast Asia Research Centre of Jilin University (PRC).

Support and condemnation

Moscow and Beijing do not adhere to the logic of bloc confrontation, even despite the West's clear course of deliberately creating threats near Russian and Chinese borders and engaging in numerous provocations. As repeatedly noted by the Russian Ambassador to China in 2013-2022 Andrey Denisov, “in a number of areas, Russia and China have gone to relations higher than allied ones, which is due to objective necessity. Our countries look at the policy of Western partners in the same way; they do not need to formalise relations and accept allied obligations.”

According to Li Zhanshu, the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, "The United States and its NATO allies are constantly increasing their presence around the Russian perimeter, seriously threatening national security and the lives of Russians ... we are supporting all measures taken by Russia to protect key interests." According to the politician, Russian-Chinese cooperation should be strengthened in light of Western sanctions against both countries. The main objective is to counteract external interference and search for new formats of interaction. Li Zhanshu also thanked Russian legislators for supporting and condemning the visits of American legislators to the island of Taiwan, including the Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi.
Undoubtedly, the official visit of Beijing’s "politician No. 3" and participation in the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok is evidence of the PRC leadership’s support for Moscow's views on a wide range of international issues. More importantly, it points to Beijing’s concerns about the course of the United States and its satellites in deepening the confrontation with Russia and China as leaders of the non-Western world.

Systemic opponent

The new NATO Strategic Concept adopted in June 2022 at the organisation's summit in Madrid pays close attention to China, exclusively in an alarmist vein. For the first time, Beijing is named in the document as a systemic opponent and competitor of NATO, seeking to control key industrial and logistics sectors in order to increase its own influence and change the world order. The alliance believes that China is using economic leverage to create strategic dependencies, conducting hybrid and cyber operations against NATO countries and partners, using confrontational rhetoric and disinformation. The concept also notes that China is rapidly developing its nuclear arsenal and creating more and more advanced means of delivery, refusing to be transparent and conscientious in observing the principles of control and minimizing risks.

To counter Beijing, NATO intends to "raise general awareness of China's actions, and strengthen preparedness and defence against China's coercive tactics and efforts to split the alliance," without abandoning, however, a constructive dialogue. The NATO leadership openly calls the deepening strategic partnership between Russia and China an attempts to "undermine the rules-based international order," a threat to the values ​​and interests of the organisation.

It is noteworthy that NATO is seriously planning to strengthen cooperation with partners in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The summit in Madrid was attended for the first time by the heads of state and government of the four main partners of the alliance in the so-called Indo-Pacific region - Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia and New Zealand. According to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, "We don't regard China as an adversary or an enemy. We need to engage with China on important issues such as climate change; there's no way to reduce emissions enough without also including China. We need to discuss arms control with China." 

However, it is not possible to call all the veiled threats and accusations against Beijing listed by NATO representatives concrete or well-reasoned. Concept 2022 distinguished itself by taking an emotional and alarmist approach rather than a pragmatic one.

It is also worth noting that a few days before the NATO summit in Madrid, the leaders of the G7 announced plans to allocate $600 billion to a global infrastructure-building program as a kind of countermeasure to the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative. True, it did not explain where to get such significant funds amid a severe economic crisis in Europe or how to ensure that lent funds were returned later in detail.

Some Western experts consider such anti-Chinese rhetoric on behalf of the entire European community to be erroneous, since China has no choice but to support Russia in the fight against global imperialism. In addition, now in military development, Beijing will inevitably take into account the entire NATO bloc, and not just the United States. A number of countries, such as France and Germany, are already trying to manoeuvre by refraining from harsh statements and actions against China and trying to improve relations with Beijing on a bilateral basis.
Economic Statecraft
Route Restored? Results of the NATO Summit in Madrid
Julia Melnikova
The picture of the alliance's world formulated for the Madrid summit is fundamentally different from the one presented in 2010, when, amid conditions of peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic region, NATO could afford the luxury of formulating threats in a general matter. However, it differs both from the communiqué and from the report of the 2021 expert group in which the main mega-trend in the development of the external environment of the alliance is the revival of great power competition as a challenge to the “rules-based order”. The new document more sharply and frankly captures the features of the present, which should determine the policy of the alliance in the future, writes Julia Melnikova, RIAC Program Coordinator.

More than a limitation

According to Chinese researchers,  the positioning of China as an adversary in the official documents of the North Atlantic Alliance is actually reflective of the entire collective West shifting towards global rivalry with Beijing, while earlier it was only about limiting China's capabilities in East Asia and the Pacific Ocean.

The Chinese Mission to the European Union published a statement where NATO is blamed for provoking confrontation and creating problems for the whole world. According to the authors of the message, Washington is trying to bring down not even two, but three birds at once with one stone - to contain China, destroy Russia and damage Europe. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian noted that the new strategic concept of NATO ignores the facts, confuses black with white, and distorts the whole meaning of China's foreign policy. The diplomat is confident that the alliance should abandon the practice of creating enemies and playing a zero-sum game.

The Chinese media also strongly condemned the participation of Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia and New Zealand in the alliance summit as a clear manifestation of the spirit of the cold war. There is an obvious disregard for the classic "security dilemma" by the leadership of these countries. In this attempt to improve their own security, Tokyo, Seoul, Canberra and Wellington are only putting themselves in more danger, as Beijing sees a direct threat in the intervention of the pro-American military-political bloc in purely East Asian affairs.
Chinese experts are confident that the traditional reliance of the Asia-Pacific countries on maintaining peace and stability should not be changed to suit the interests of Washington, since the bloc approach in Europe has already proved its viciousness in connection with the events in Ukraine and is completely unsuitable for the Pacific Ocean.

As the editors of the Global Times aptly put it, "denying it is like a detained drunk driver claiming he's perfectly sober" (就和那些虽然喝了酒,但坚持说自己没有酒驾的人一样).

Remembering Metaphysics

For some reason, the West is confident that Russia's special military operation in Ukraine will induce Beijing to launch military operations against Taiwan. At the same time, even independent analysts warn against direct analogies and point out significant differences between Moscow’s approach and that of Beijing in ensuring security, as the degree to which each conflict poses an existential threat to the state is incomparable.

Moreover, scientists in the PRC are increasingly inclined to adopt a holistic approach in ensuring national security. That is, based on the ideas of Aristotle, it turns out that global security is more important than the totality of “regional security”, and national security is a comprehensive concept, not just the sum of military-political, economic, informational and other special cases. Holistic logic would lead one to assume that China and Russia will not be able to ensure their own security if each ignores the challenges and threats facing the other.

This idea is confirmed by the growing rapprochement between Moscow and Beijing on issues of strategic stability. As noted during the 17th round of Russian-Chinese consultations in September 2022 by Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, the political elites of the collective West seek to impose false values ​​to the detriment of the interests of the peoples of the world, while Russia and China call for a more just world order. According to Yang Jiechi, Executive Secretary of the Foreign Affairs Group of the CPC Central Committee, China is willing to work with Russia to implement the consensus reached by the countries’ respective leaders, deepen political trust and develop strategic partnerships to protect the common interests, security, and the stability of the whole world.

The degree to which the strategic interests of Moscow and Beijing coincide can be seen in the example of a 30% increase in trade turnover in 2022, as well as the active conduct of military exercises and regular joint patrols of warships and long-range aircraft. According to representatives of both sides, Russian-Chinese relations should take into account the full range of threats emanating from the United States and its allies and be protected from the influence of external factors.

The Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, held in Samarkand on September 15-16, 2022, demonstrated that Moscow and Beijing are interested in strengthening the Eurasian vector of integration as a non-Western model of development, which may be attractive to a significant part of the world community amid the new geopolitical conditions. However, to protect the undeniable value of shared prosperity, our countries will inevitably have to show strict determination.
World Economy
BRICS and SCO: Inclusive Cooperation in the Face of Global Challenges
On September 29, the Valdai Club, together with the CITIC Foundation for Reform and Development Studies of China, held an expert discussion, titled “Main Directions and Prospects for the Expansion of the BRICS and SCO”.
Club events
Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.