In a recent article published on the website of the Valdai group, Timofei Bordachev briefly sets out the situation in which Russia finds itself in the context of the conflict between China and the US and what prospects are opening.
Broadly speaking, Bordachev urges caution when it comes to the Russia – China Alliance. He even recalled the state of conflict between Moscow and Beijing during the Cold War and that since the 70s, the US has essentially supported China’s development.
As far as I’m concerned, he’s making a mistake here. At that time the two states were indeed Communist, so on the same ideological side but this made them even more fierce when it came to promoting their own forms of communism. It didn’t take long for the U.S. to step in and encourage dissent between its neighbors. Beijing chose a friendship with benefits in a context where Moscow was no longer willing to offer much.
Another idea presented by Borachev is that at present China does not have a socio-economic model and a development ideology with chances of universal acceptance.
Here I also have a comment to make. First of all, China declares its model as communism with Chinese characteristics, essentially a Communism with free market reforms. Communism does not have a global appetite at the moment, but neither does capitalism. The convergence tested by the Chinese, in the future, may prove a viable solution for many states that do not currently even fathom this possibility.
According to Bordachev, if we start comparing the allies that both the U.S. and China have, we’ll see that Washington has the upper hand. At first glance it is so, but this is only a short term, near future type of comparison. Let us not forget that many US allies have social and economic problems of one type or another and so does the US. China, on the other hand, is much more stable and it can be seen that they have tried to resolve any possible sensitive points, the most recent being the case of Hong Kong. One should not forget the Belt and Road project by which China managed to attract many states into its sphere of influence.
At this time Russia is ready to take on its own problems. This means that all these years of Russophobia and sanctions have urged Moscow to focus more on its own forces and to resort less to the outside. Fortunately or unfortunately, that’s the situation. This means that now they would not have much to lose or gain no matter which side they choose The large border with China is best to remain a peaceful one though.
Timofei Bordachev is a specialist in the Valdai Group on Russian-European relations, European Union foreign policy and European and international security.