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Are China-Russia ties a serious threat to American interests?

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Jamil Anderlini of the Financial Times says (paywall) that “the West ignores the alliance forming between Moscow and Beijing at its peril.” He likens the Western intelligence community’s failure to grasp the significance of the warm relations between Moscow and Beijing to their “failure to notice the Sino-Soviet split in the frigid depths of the cold war.”

  • A strong Sino-Russian alliance is often dismissed as impossible — Anderlini cites U.S. defense secretary Jim Mattis talking “about a ‘natural non-convergence of interest’ between Russia and China and his belief that both countries had more in common with America than with each other.”
  • However, according to Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping “is the only foreign leader he has celebrated his birthday with — over a glass of vodka and a plate of sausage. For his part, Mr Xi recently called the Russian president his ‘best, most intimate friend’ while presenting him with China’s inaugural friendship medal.” Xi and Putin have met 26 times since 2012.
  • “Russia was China’s biggest supplier [of crude oil] last year and Beijing has lent tens of billions of dollars to Moscow to secure future oil and gas supplies.” But Anderlini says the two countries’ close military relationship is “even more significant than their economic entanglement.”
  • The “tightening embrace” between Xi and Putin “is as much about antipathy toward the U.S. and the U.S.-dominated global order as their rapidly growing common interests,” argues Anderlini, warning the U.S. to “recognize how serious a threat the nascent Sino-Russian alliance is to U.S. interests — and the current world order.”

Related — the South China Morning Post reports: China, Russia prepare for strategic security talks in Moscow as pressure from United States grows.

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Jeremy Goldkorn

Jeremy Goldkorn worked in China for 20 years as an editor and entrepreneur. He is editor-in-chief of SupChina, and co-founder of the Sinica Podcast.

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