China and Russia are aligning their strategies to team up against the United States, according to a commentary by the Global Times, a tabloid under the auspices of the Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily.
Following more than two decades of development, bilateral relations between China and Russia have reached a new phase, the July 18 commentary said, adding that China now considers Russia an irreplaceable partner for all its key strategies.
These include the Silk Road Economic Belt, the land-based component of Beijing’s amibitious “Belt and Road” initiative to boost cooperation and connectivity in Eurasia; the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the political, economic and military organisation the two countries founded along with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan; and the BRICS association comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, as well as the group’s New Development Bank.
During Chinese president Xi Jinping’s visit to Moscow in May, the two sides also signed off on a joint declaration detailing cooperation between the Silk Road Economic Belt and the Eurasian Economic Union, which comprises the Eurasian states of Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
Beijing appears to be working hard to eliminate Moscow’s wariness and concerns to form a China-Russia “dual engine,” Global Times said, noting that there is still some tension stemming from the perceived competition between the Trans-Asian Railway supported by China and the Trans-Siberian Railway pushed by Russia, as well as the Central Asia–China gas pipeline from Central Asia to the northwest Chinese region of Xinjiang and the Altai gas pipeline from Russia’s Western Siberia to North-Western China.
China therefore needs to find ways to synergize the Trans-Asian Railway and Silk Road Economic Belt, which will offer alternatives and develop infrastructure that is mutually beneficial to both sides, the commentary added.
A key to China’s strategies is the Beijing-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, a pivotal platform for broadening cooperation and increasing the scale of development. Also important is the BRICS’ New Development Bank and its reserve currency pool of US$100 billion, which will contribute to the fight against the liquidity crunch and global deflation by helping emerging markets better deal with the risks.
Global Times warns, however, that the China-Russia relationship will not always be smooth sailing, and that the strength of the alliance will ultimately depend on Moscow’s attitude towards Beijing’s various ventures.
The commentary notes that there are four ways in which Xi and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin are joining hands to combat the United States.
The first is economic cooperation through mutually beneficial deals such as the recent 30-year, US$400 billion natural gas agreement signed in Beijing in May. It was a deal in the interests of both sides, as Russia needed an export partner for its energy resources, while China needed a supplier for its significant energy needs. China even forwarded part of the funds to Russia in advance to help Moscow better cope with the economic sanctions from the West after its annexation of the Ukranian territory of Crimea last year.
The second strategy is to jointly develop the Silk Road Economic Belt. Coupled with the Trans-Asian Railway, it is China and Russia’s hope of forming a China-Eurasia economic zone to the exclusion of the US, as both Beijing and Moscow know that an inability to exert its influence is what Washington fears the most.
Thirdly, China and Russia are aiming for the New Development Bank to put pressure on US dollar by competing with the US-controlled World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Given that the five BRICS nations account for half of the world’s GDP, it is possible that they could soon threaten the status of the US dollar as the dominant global reserve currency.
Lastly, China and Russia are also looking to penetrate the US “backyard” of Latin American markets. Xi and Putin both attended the BRICS summit in Brazil last July, after which Xi embarked on a tour of Argentina, Venezuela and Cuba. According to the Global Times, it was Xi’s way of telling Washington that if it meddles with Chinese business in Asia, China will interfere in US affairs in South America.