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.
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.