The Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China have grown closer since Western sanctions on Moscow after the 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula. Russian President Putin has faced the East out of necessity and signed massive energy and other trade deals, whose profitability is in question. Moscow and Beijing have also held multiple joint military exercises in a bid to make an impression on Washington.
A historical mistrust has existed between the two nations and cultures for centuries, where the memory of the iron yoke of the Mongolian horde still lingers in the Russian capital.
China recently made public comments regarding a possible formal military alliance, once mentioned by the Russian president.
China is not planning on creating a united front with Russia against NATO, the Chinese Defense Ministry announced. Its spokesperson stressed that military ties between the two powers served as a basis for a strategic partnership. However, the sides are sticking to the principle of non-participation in the alliances and do not want any confrontation. This statement was aimed at calming the foreign media and Chinese experts, who still remember Russian President Vladimir Putin’s remark that a Russian-Chinese alliance was not ruled out. Basically, by rejecting this option, Beijing is sending a hint to Washington that it still hopes to iron out differences with it, reported Russian state news agency TASS.
Vasily Kashin, a senior research fellow at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute for Far Eastern Studies, told Nezavisimaya Gazeta that for a long time both Russian and Chinese foreign political rhetoric has been criticizing the mere idea of alliances. They noted that the bloc concept was obsolete and Russia described NATO as an outdated and irrelevant organization. However, Moscow has allies in the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a post-Soviet security bloc. In its turn, China also lambasted the American system of alliances. “Therefore, it’s impossible for the sides to admit that they could create an alliance. Even if their relations have features of an alliance, their rhetoric will be: “This is another thing, this is a very close partnership, [simply] mutual assistance and friendship.”
In fact, Russia and China have commitments under a 2001 treaty, which says that in the event of a danger to either side, consultations should be held on the means of eliminating that threat. “If we look at the US-Japanese treaty or the NATO treaty, the commitments there are also vague. The wording in the Russian-Chinese treaty does not differ that much from them,” Kashin noted. Why was this issue raised now? According to Kashin, pressure on Russia and China has been ramped up. And all discussions on a possible alliance are just some sort of way of intimidating opponents.
This rhetoric from TASS may be a face-saving measure for Putin, who may have got out in front of his skis regarding any future military cooperation with the PLA.
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