International, Politics

Plot Twist! Now China May Be Turning Against Russia

Western observers of international affairs sounded the alarm after a seemingly enthusiastic joint statement by President Vladimir Putin and General Secretary Xi Jinping. Released during the Russian president’s visit to China — the first time Xi has met with a foreign head of state since before the pandemic — the statement seemed to signal increasing alignment between two powers against the United States and its allies. Based on the document, one could assume China would be supportive of Russia’s assault on Ukraine. The truth, however, is quite different, both on this particular issue (in which China was played by Russia) and in China’s general assessment of Russia, its largest neighbor.

The nature of the Sino-Russian relationship has been difficult to define and there is much disagreement over its characteristics. Is it as sturdy as an alliance? Or as flimsy as a marriage of convenience? The truth is the relationship is neither and both. This paradox is the result of both an alignment and misalignment in different areas of their national interests. While certain factors innate to the Sino-Russian relationship drive them apart, the two are currently glued together by their shared view that the United States poses a threat to their core interests. An accurate assessment of the depth, strengths, and weaknesses of Sino-Russian relations is thus key to mapping out where the two countries do and do not collude in international affairs, especially in Europe and Asia. This includes an understanding of how China views its past, present, and future relationship with Russia. Read more…

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