Academic journal article Global Economic Observer

Sino-Russian Rapprochement and Its Impact on Global Power Dynamics

Academic journal article Global Economic Observer

Sino-Russian Rapprochement and Its Impact on Global Power Dynamics

Article excerpt

1. China - Russia relationship: brief history and present developments

Presently one of the main pols of international economic and political power of the 21st century, both China and Russia have undergone a series of great transformations, emerging from autarchic economic regimes into important players in the world economic arena (Nye, 2011). It is worth mentioning not only that the two countries have evolved separately, but that the balance of power in their bilateral relations has also shifted considerably. Considering this, in order to fully understand the complexities of the Sino-Russian relationship, certain historical corner stones need mentioning. As some authors (Wilson, 2017) pointed out, from an historical perspective the Sino-Russian relationship may be divided into three main epochs: post-war cooperation, Sino-Soviet Split and the new cooperation (see Figure 1).

At present, China's and Russia's soft alliance (Gabuev, 2015) is driven by certain key features: close military, economic, political and cultural partnership, coupled with the sharing of the same stance and mutual support in numerous global issues.

The current rapprochement based on regained cooperation, especially after 2000, is, as stated by certain analysis (Saradzhyan, Wyne, 2017), due to the outbreak of the Crimean crisis in the geopolitical landscape of the 21st century. Both Saradzhyan and Wyne indicate that "the West's subsequent effort to punish Russia" for its involvement in Crimean crisis "have caused Moscow to accelerate its pivot to Beijing".

2. Common geopolitical and economic interests as drivers of the bilateral relationship

As mentioned in the first part of our analysis, the West's sanctions against Russia and its increased distrust of China's global economic ambitions may very well be the drivers of the new dynamics between the two countries. While both were pushed away by the West's action towards them (sanctions against Russia and Trump's economic war with China), it must be stated that even before that, China and Russia had started to boost their cooperation largely based on an evolving series of strategic partnerships based on several core principles: mutual trust, equality in setting the specific economic targets in the China-Russia bilateral relations and mutual benefit.

The basis for this cooperation is the Strategic Partnership, signed between the two countries in 2014. Although this vector for bilateral cooperation is key for understanding the Sino-Russian rapprochement, the cooperation in international organizations where both countries are members is also a major tool to be considered when analyzing the current status-quo between these two global powers. Being both members in numerous international organizations, as shown before, China and Russia currently have the opportunity to support each other in the debate of relevant global issues. For instance, during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) most recent forum, China and Russia further affirmed their close cooperation and ongoing communication on policy matters with an international dimension. Both countries agreed to promote the APEC bloc by fostering regional and economic growth strategies. This included their support for an Asia-Pacific free trade area for all 21 member states. Their joint support for regional free trade came on the heels of U.S. President Donald Trump seeming to back away from the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement - an exclusive U.S.-led trade bloc including 12 states on both sides of the Pacific Ocean.

At the last forum of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) proposals for integrating China's Belt Road Initiative (BRI) with the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) played a key role. Although the SCO is a separate institution from the BRI and the EEU, it is increasingly viewed by governments across the world as an organization reflecting the political and economic ascendancy of the Eurasian region. …

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