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Saturday, May 24, 2014

China and Russia: Nixon Wouldn't Approve

When I saw the picture on the front page the other day of Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin drinking a toast to their new gas import deal, I thought Nixon must be rolling over in his grave.  Our strategy now seems to be pushing Beijing and Moscow toward greater cooperation, which will limit our policy options toward either one of them.  George Friedman of Stratfor explains the significance:
This does not portend a return to the Sino-Soviet axis against the West of the 1950s. China is far too intertwined with the U.S. and European economies to attempt a grand realignment, and regional frictions, particularly in Central Asia and the Pacific, would further complicate such an alliance. Nonetheless, tighter bilateral relations would give Russia and China a stake in each other's futures. With significant investments in Russia, Beijing would have no desire to see an unstable Russia, and vice versa.
China now has sufficient interest in cooperating with Russia to avoid conflicts -- whether direct or in their overlapping spheres -- that could detract from Beijing's ability to manage attempts at containment by the United States and its allies. Russia is one of the few powers capable of significantly resisting or interfering with major U.S. foreign policy initiatives. Beijing's willingness to enhance its strategic relationship with Moscow reflects its belief that the United States poses a far greater threat to Chinese interests than does Russia. Similarly, giving another power a stake in Russian stability will help Moscow deter U.S. attempts to isolate or destabilize the country, particularly as tensions with the West continue to escalate.
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