Global Governance
Some Uncalled-for Ideas on Chinese Foreign Policy

Today, China is Russia’s closest friend and ally in international politics. Bilateral relations are based on a common approach to the world arrangement – a strong role for institutions, democratic decision-making and the inviolability of sovereignty of individual states. These are common values that make cooperation possible and prevent a conflict, the likelihood of which many US and other Western observers have been writing about. On the contrary, the Beijing-Moscow mutual understanding has become a major factor of Eurasian stability in the past five years.
The confidence that China and Russia have in each others intentions is a fairly rare phenomenon for a system of subordination-free relations.

However, like any strong power, China finds it difficult to hold its influence back. Such conduct fits in into the standard of great powers foreign policy regardless of their social arrangement or philosophical foundation. There may be differences in the means that great powers use to achieve various forms of domination. Thus, today we can see the bellicose policy of the United States that wants to subordinate other countries by force, or the peaceful policy of Germany. China is no exception. After reaching a critical point in its own economic progress, its accumulated potentialities began transforming into foreign policy activities that no longer follows Deng Xiaopings behest: Hide your strength, bide your time, never take the lead.

Russia is a power that is capable of ensuring its own security and development without reliance on external sources  either military allies or the exploitation of colonies. This is why it needs international order less than the medium-sized European countries or major trading powers like the United States or China. This has been a traditional problem for Russian foreign policy in Europe. Russia’s military and demographic strength have not allowed it to take seriously the subtleties of the European balance of forces, as a result of which its real interests were often ignored.  

But now the situation is changing. Russia is determining its foreign policy and adjusts its own behavior based on a global rather than a European balance. This balance has a constant  the insuperable military advantage of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council over all others. But in the majority of other issues, the global correlation of forces has been the most flexible since the formation of the Westphalian order in the middle of the 17th century. Security issues that are not critical for survival can be settled through international cooperation and the rational organisation of regions where relations between insiders are closer and more trustworthy than with outsiders.
Russia-China: A Chance to Break the Mould
Nelson Wong
Today's Russia is not the Soviet Union during the Cold War, nor is China the same as it was forty years ago. The fast developing relations between China and Russia has far more strategic relevance worldwide than purely bilateral in nature, and should be appreciated as an endeavour of the two countries to grasp this historic opportunity to create a new horizon for peace and development that befits the wisdom and advancement of mankind.
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So, despite its own potential, it is important for Russia to make sure that the consequences of Chinas growing power do not jeopardise peace in Eurasia. Today, this peace can ensure security on Russias perimeter and allow it to focus on national development, as the Russian President has said more than once. It is important for Russia to encourage China to pursue a reserved and relatively predictable foreign policy against the backdrop of any challenges or threats that Beijing might see.

Many analysts interpreted the recent statements by US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo as an official start to a system-wide struggle against China, in which the United States will use all of its political, ideological, economic, and probably, military resources. These statements are expected and are a product of not only US-China relations but also the dynamics of the global balance of forces. The main reason of the conflict is not only the shortage of global resources, because the US wants to preserve its former level of extracting profits from the entire international system, while China seeks to attain resources for economic development. 

The laws of global politics that are linked with the nature of relations between groups are beyond the limits of primitive political economics. Despite its recent erroneous interpretation, the main challenge in international politics according to Thucydides is not a striving of one country to replace another. The US doesnt necessarily follow this philosophy but rather proceeds from its own experience because it suits it better.

Conceptually, this understanding is embodied in the main idea of John Mearsheimer: Great powers, I argue, are always searching for opportunities to gain power over their rivals, with hegemony as their final goal. This perspective does not allow for status quo powers, except for the unusual state that achieves preponderance. Instead, the system is populated with great powers that have revisionist intentions at their core. But even this view unwittingly leads us from methodology to practical politics. There is a different and much more alarming regularity  the growing might of great powers as such is bound to result in the reciprocal strengthening of other states and trigger a conflict regardless of what goals are set by each country. The growing might of Athens fuelled Spartas fear. This is the foundation of the patently pessimistic science of international relations.

We see that this axiom does not leave China many options and it will have to respond to the cast challenge in one way or another. Security in Eurasia will be determined by how diversified Chinas economic and political might will be. Several years ago, China demonstrated its ability to take into account categories of cooperation. When President Xi Jinping proclaimed the One Road, One Belt policy in 2013 (called at that time the Silk Road Economic Belt), many analysts in Eurasia expressed a cautious attitude towards it, while politicians outside Eurasia didnt hide their joy over a China-Russia rivalry that they considered natural. However, in 2015, Chinese leadership displayed its usual wisdom. A treaty between China and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU)  a major project of Russian foreign policy was drafted in three years. China showed its willingness to consider the interests of its partners, which was also a new experience for Russia, the interests and values of which were often ignored in Europe.

This year’s conflict between India and China also evoked concern in Russia and joy in the West. For Moscow, the confrontation between the two most populous Eurasian nations was a major foreign policy challenge. It called into question the future of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), which Moscow considers the central platform for regional cooperation. Moreover, this conflict could require Russias ability to build a balance of forces and interests of equal and powerful players that do not depend on it. At the same time, the actions of Beijing and Delhi have remained reserved so far. These states will not likely become fast friends but hopefully in the future they will act in their own interests rather than those of the US and its allies.

To be successful during a long-term conflict with the US, China must build its policy on the understanding that the historical period of one powers full or partial domination is over with the end of the liberal world order. Even if such intentions had existed, the absence of the combination of the ethical system claiming to be universal and the military power behind it would have made their implementation impossible. Blaming China for attempts to push the US from world hegemony, the US ideological machine wants to set Beijing at loggerheads with the rest of the world. Cooperation, reliance on institutions and fair solutions even in the interests of medium and weak players will allow China to reduce its own vulnerability in the face of an enemy that History is now presenting it with. 
Global Governance
Illiberal World Order
Timofei Bordachev
The liberal world order was comfortable for the vast majority of states. That is why none of them has become the source of a global military catastrophe in the last 30 years, as happened twice with Germany in the 20th century. The fact that it is becoming a thing of the past is not a reason to rejoice, but the result of a historical development process that cannot be reversed, writes Valdai Club Programme Director Timofei Bordachev.
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Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.