BEIJING, China – The Chinese government defended relations with Russia and stressed that they do not target third countries.
“[China and Russia] stick to a new kind of interstate relations… that are not directed against third countries,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Gen Shuang.
Beijing’s official statement comes a day after US intelligence director Daniel Coats claimed that China and Russia are collaborating to confront Washington’s policy.
Geng stressed that Sino-Russian relations are at their best in their history.
“We leave behind the obsolete idea of the zero-sum game that assumes that the great powers can only be allies or adversaries,” said the Chinese diplomat.
He stressed that “Sino-Russian relations do not admit confrontation.”
However, according to Graham Allison and Dimitri Simes in a debate at the Center for National Interest that earlier this month brought together experts in public policy based in Washington, the cooperation between China and Russia poses a major strategic challenge for the US, and if left unchecked could have very negative consequences.
‘The Nightmare of the United States: the Chinese-Russian Entente,’ reads the headline of the article in the US media.
The experts, quoted by the newspaper, warned that Washington is making a serious mistake by not making strategic adjustments to avoid the increasingly close alignment between these two powers.
“As Russia and China have become increasingly aligned in recent years, the United States has lost the once advantageous position it occupied during the second half of the Cold War of enjoying better relations with Moscow and Beijing, respectively, than they had with one another,” said the article.
However, Dimitri Simes, president of the Center for National Interest, noted that despite increasing cooperation, the relationship still does not reach the level of a de facto alliance, and, according to him, it is unlikely that an official alliance will be established between the two powers.
According to the expert, Beijing abstains from official commitments because it is concerned that a formal alliance with Moscow has a negative impact on its fragile, but outstanding, economic relationship with the United States. For example, although China has been “very positive about deepening economic cooperation with Russia in general,” Beijing refused to take specific measures to reinforce the Russian economy against Western pressure, such as conducting financial transactions in local currency with in order to avoid the US dollar.
However, the Russian ambassador in Beijing, Andrei Denisov, reported in December that the use of national currencies in transactions between Russia and China already reaches 15% and “this figure will continue to increase because it is comfortable for both parties.”
At the same time, the US newspaper says that “China is more interested in working with Russia and other partners to accelerate the emergence of a multipolar, post-American world than in becoming enmeshed in a permanent bipolar struggle on the side of Russia versus the United States.”
Simes also noted that the relationship continues to have a real strategic utility for Russia: “the very sense in Moscow that they may have a Chinese option provides them with a kind of encouragement to be tougher, to be bolder, and to be more optimistic about their ability to survive without a meaningful cooperation with the United States.”
In addition, cooperation between the Russian and Chinese military has deepened with a growing series of joint exercises and training. Russian arms manufacturers no longer abstain from selling their most advanced military equipment to China.
“Russia no longer sees China as a military threat (which was the case as recently as the late 1990s), territorial disputes have been resolved, and the mass Chinese migration to the Russian Far East that was predicted in the aftermath of the Soviet Union’s collapse never materialized. Military-to-military cooperation has deepened with a growing array of joint exercises and training. Russia has also undergone an attitudinal shift on arms sales,” noted Simes. “Russian arms manufacturers no longer refrain from selling their most advanced military hardware to China, which they did out of fear of Chinese reverse-engineering in the late 1990s and early 2000s.”