In recent times, China has been successful in convincing Russia to participate in provocative military activities near Japan.
In exchange, Russia gained political support in China for its military threats against Europe.
Russia and China look a lot like Germany and Japan in 1939 right now.
— X Soviet (@XSovietNews) February 4, 2022
These are indicators of how the world’s two most influential autocracies are coming together to find common ground.
Common Interest and Individual Objectives
China’s attractiveness may be divided into two categories, according to Vladimir Putin.
As a result of improved ties with China, Putin has been able to establish an economic and military partnership that’s allowed him to exercise unprecedented global power.
Russia takes great delight in stating its undercutting of international humanitarian law is not, in reality, the result of unilateralism, but rather the result of opposition to U.S.-led hubris on the part of the international community.
When China lends its backing to that story, it gains a small amount of legitimacy. Furthermore, Moscow benefits from the expansion of its commerce with Beijing, which is expected to grow by 36 percent to $147 billion in 2021.
Joe Biden is letting China and Russia eat our lunch.
— Brigitte Gabriel (@ACTBrigitte) February 18, 2022
It is also important to note that China is increasingly reliant on Russian energy exports, which are the cornerstone of President Putin’s economic strategy.
According to him, Russia also appeals to Xi Jinping on the basis of its political credibility.
At the United Nations and other international institutions where China can count on Russia’s assistance, Beijing can promote its policies as having more widespread support than they really do.
In particular, China is concerned with countering American claims that Beijing’s actions make it an outlier in the larger public of cooperating countries.
China seeks to improve its worldwide standing by referring to Russian support for the country’s opposition to the United States of America.
This is why Putin’s appearance at the Winter Olympics in Beijing, for example, was so significant for the country.
Limit to Their Alliance
However, there is a limit to the increasing level of cooperation.
China and Russia, in contrast to NATO and the European Union, do not have the same interests and do not share the same level of confidence required to build a truly binding alliance.
Because of each nation’s extensive espionage against the other, the Cold War’s legacy of distrust continues to exist today.
As a result, China only provides support for Russia to the extent that doing so incurs only minor costs to the country’s other foreign policy interests.
The European Union might be willing to link China’s backing of Russian aggression in Ukraine to the possibility of negotiating an EU-China trade agreement. Xi would rapidly distance himself from Putin in response.
The challenge for the West, then, is to make the expense of pursuing this relationship prohibitively expensive for those who want to participate.
This will open the door for re-emerging suspicions inside the Sino-Russian partnership, which would ultimately lead to the alliance’s disintegration and eventual death.