President Xi Jinping of China has called Vladimir Putin his “best friend” and colleague. These public statements bely history. For example, in 1969 unprovoked Chinese attacks on Russian soldiers which lead to a border clash.
In recent history, the border discrimination against the Han race exemplify racial tensions and mistrust between the Russian and Chinese people.
For the time being, the public relationship with Xi Jinping makes sense for Putin as it gives ease to Chinese investment and undermines leadership as world leader. In addition, US Congress derived sanctions against Russia and Trump’s trade war on China have brought the two countries closer together.
When diving deeper through Putin is fighting a political battle with Chinese interests in corporate boardrooms, Silk Road initiatives and manipulative economic practices.
What will likely drive tensions between Putin and China are land encroachments on Russia’s eastern region bordering the Pacific Ocean. Chinese military leaders already consider specific regions owned by China. As seen in Vietnam, the Philippines, India, and Japan, China will flex it’s military and financial muscles to it’s own benefit. It seems inevitable that China will demand revisions to the Czar’s border treaties or at least “land-lease” rights. The Russian policy has between to deter aggression by the threat of nuclear retaliation.
The current Russian political paradigm is post-imperial and it no longer seeks to conquer new countries. Instead, it’s diplomatic paradigm is to insure the balance between the US and Chinese powers. In the mid-2000s, the Shanghai Co-operation Organization (SCO) was built to forge a collaboration between China and Russia against NATO and the US.
From the Chinese perspective, the policy is for Russia to neither collude or collide with the US. First, China is aware of the US Foreign policy strategy exemplified by Secretary of State Hilary Clinton to encircle China. China’s worst fear is for Russia to join forces with the US. On the other hand, it is against Chinese interest for their to be any tensions between Russia and the US such as in the 2008 war in Georgia.
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