The mis­un­der­stood side of China-Rus­sia ties

Global Times - - Front Page - By Wang Haiyun The au­thor is an ex­pert from the China In­ter­na­tional In­sti­tute for Strate­gic So­ci­ety. opin­ion@glob­al­

Some Chi­nese have long held crit­i­cism of Rus­sia and emo­tional, ir­ra­tional and un­re­al­is­tic ar­gu­ments about Bei­jing’s ties with Moscow. Such views are an im­ped­i­ment to Bei­jing’s strate­gic global plans.

Rus­sia re­mains an in­flu­en­tial global power with a vast ter­ri­tory, rich re­sources and im­mense po­ten­tial for de­vel­op­ment. Al­though no longer among the world’s top 10 economies, it beats China in per capita GDP.

Eco­nomic power is not the only fac­tor de­ter­min­ing a coun­try’s na­tional strength, which in­cludes mil­i­tary might, na­tional in­tegrity, strate­gic strength and in­ter­na­tional stand­ing. Yet if we fo­cus only on the econ­omy, GDP is not the only pa­ram­e­ter. Other de­ter­mi­nants in­clud­ing en­dow­ment of re­sources, tech­no­log­i­cal po­ten­tial, ed­u­ca­tional achieve­ments and the de­gree of self-suf­fi­ciency are also im­por­tant.

Granted, today’s Rus­sia is no longer a su­per­power, but it still har­bors am­bi­tion and be­haves like a ma­jor power.

That be­ing said, Moscow is still a gen­uine world-class player in the global arena. Ties among China, Rus­sia and the US form the most im­por­tant strate­gic tri­an­gle in the world. For­mer US pres­i­dent Barack Obama once called Rus­sia no more than a “re­gional power,” but that was not Wash­ing­ton’s real opin­ion. Oth­er­wise, it would not treat Moscow like a dan­ger­ous strate­gic op­po­nent or try to sup­press the Krem­lin with so much ef­fort.

Some peo­ple from China have been high­light­ing ter­ri­to­rial dis­putes be­tween Bei­jing and Moscow, ar­gu­ing that be­fore the two talk about friend­ship, Rus­sia must give back Chi­nese ter­ri­tory. They say so ei­ther out of ig­no­rance or an in­ten­tion to mis­lead the Chi­nese peo­ple about Rus­sia.

In fact, the ter­ri­to­rial dis­putes have been com­pletely re­solved through ne­go­ti­a­tions. A 2001 treaty ar­tic­u­lat­ing good neigh­borly re­la­tions be­tween China and Rus­sia says there re­main no ter­ri­to­rial claims to­ward each other. The two have com­pletely got­ten rid of their historical dis­putes and have been grad­u­ally mov­ing to­ward com­pre­hen­sive strate­gic part­ner­ship of co­or­di­na­tion.

Rus­sia’s ir­re­place­able strate­gic value for China must be rec­og­nized. The coun­try is ex­pected to be­come a ma­jor strate­gic part­ner of China in terms of the lat­ter’s pe­riph­eral diplo­macy, main­tain­ing world peace and sta­bil­ity, pro­mot­ing a new type of in­ter­na­tional con­cept, supporting mul­ti­lat­eral gover­nance, bal­anc­ing

the pat­tern of global pow­ers and build­ing a new in­ter­na­tional order. Sino-Rus­sian re­la­tions also have a role in coun­ter­bal­anc­ing ties with the US.

Both China and Rus­sia are emerg­ing na­tions, non-Western pow­ers, per­ma­nent mem­bers of the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil and the US’ main tar­get for con­tain­ment. It means the two share sim­i­lar strate­gic needs, in­ter­ests and ideas. This can be seen as the ba­sis of their strate­gic bi­lat­eral re­la­tions.

China and Rus­sia are each other’s big­gest neigh­bors. They are of great sig­nif­i­cance to each other’s se­cu­rity and de­vel­op­ment. As an old Chi­nese say­ing goes, close neigh­bors are dearer than dis­tant rel­a­tives. Nur­tur­ing solid ties be­tween Bei­jing and Moscow will con­trib­ute to China’s rise and help Bei­jing avoid get­ting into con­flicts both at sea and land at the same time, as well as cope with tur­moil and chaos stirred up by other ma­jor coun­tries in Asia.

Com­pared with other ma­jor world pow­ers, Rus­sia has bet­ter com­ple­men­tary ad­van­tages with China, in­clud­ing diplo­macy, se­cu­rity and de­vel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties. In en­ergy and re­sources, the trans­for­ma­tion and up­grade of tra­di­tional in­dus­tries in China and re-in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion in Rus­sia, the two sides can in­te­grate and in­ter­act with each other.

There­fore, de­vel­op­ing Sino-Rus­sian re­la­tions is not a mea­sure of ex­pe­di­ency, but a long-term strat­egy. It is not for util­i­tar­ian pur­poses, but based on mu­tual ben­e­fits. Over­look­ing or even bad-mouthing their ties is hence un­wise.

As the two na­tions have di­verg­ing strate­gic cul­tures and historical is­sues, the bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship must be taken good care of. In a com­plex in­ter­na­tional en­vi­ron­ment in which they in­tend to re­ju­ve­nate ties, China and Rus­sia must jointly form a more ef­fec­tive com­mu­nity of com­mon in­ter­ests, destiny

and re­spon­si­bil­ity.

Il­lus­tra­tion: Liu Rui/GT

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