China-Russia unity can resist US pressure

By Oleg Ivanov Source:Global Times Published: 2020/1/2 20:23:42

Photo: Xinhua

One can hardly predict what will happen and when, but we can highlight global and regional trends and directions of where world politics has been moving and will continue to move in 2020. The center of gravity of the world's geopolitics and geo-economics will keep drifting toward the Pacific.

This is the region where the interests of leading powers like China, Russia, the US and others on the one hand are intertwined but on the other they clash. The significance of the Pacific will increase both in terms of opportunities and risks in 2020.

The US will continue to pursue the following goals that form parts of its strategy. First, it will go out of its way to preserve its dominating position in the region, and the world on the whole.

Second, the US will do its best to prevent China from becoming an equal rival and thwart the development of a group of states like BRICS or SCO that can alter the balance of power and challenge US supremacy. However, rising China and the growing role of BRICS and SCO is an objective factor that will be taken into account in 2020, whether anyone likes it or not.

Another trend that revealed itself in 2019 is the attempt of the collective West, headed by the US, to impose "the concept of the world order based on the rules" versus the one based on international law.

This concept will remain the top priority of the Western global agenda which is aimed at replacing the UN as the main international institution formulating the rules of behavior in international politics by the collective West. Russia and China will continue to resist this Western approach which will be another bone of contention in 2020.

This year, our common task and responsibility will be the search to accommodate divergent interests of Russia and China versus the interests of the US and its allies in order to avoid conflicts. To safeguard peace and security, both Russia and China will unite their efforts and keep on seeking more military cohesion through joint exercises and missions as they did with joint air patrols in July of 2019.

In foreign policy, Russia and China will coordinate their actions to come up with new initiatives. In December 2019 both nations demonstrated their capability and willingness to work together when they put forward a joint proposal for a UN resolution to ease sanctions on North Korea. This kind of coordination is highly likely to take place in the future. Steadily growing trade turnover between Russia and China reached $100 billion in 2019 and will continue to increase. The launch of the new gas pipeline "Power of Siberia" will boost closer cooperation between the two countries.

Obviously, the kind of Russian-Chinese practice of working together will be confronted by the US and its allies. The US won't lift sanctions against Russia because it regards sanctions as a proper leverage to punish Russia and at the same time sanctions are considered an instrument to get rid of competitor in the energy market. However, the US will be more cautious in imposing sanctions or tariffs against China as they may backfire because of significant economic interdependency.

The upcoming US presidential elections will bring more changes. It is likely that Russia and China will become a part of the election campaign in the US. Russia may be accused of meddling and China may be blamed for conducting unfair foreign trade policy. If President Donald Trump's approval rating goes down, he is likely to take a tougher stand on Russia and China to win support of US voters. If not, he will pursue basically the same policy toward both countries.

Strategic stability will be put to the test in 2020. The New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) between Russia and the US will expire in February 2021. As the US is unwilling to conclude a new one, Russia has proposed to extend the current treaty.

So far, the US position is unclear. If the New START goes away there will be no limitations in the sphere of nuclear weapons. The US will have a free rein to increase its nuclear potential. Such evolution will push other nuclear countries to follow the US path. As a result, the world will face a nuclear arms race which will take us back to the 1960s. There will be more uncertainty, more mess and more danger with regard to international security.

As the strategy of containment by the West toward Russia and China will persist in 2020, it will require more coordination and joint work between Russia and China so our cooperation will be indispensable not only for our countries, but for international stability on the whole that goes beyond bilateral relations.

The author is Vice-Rector of Research, Moscow-based Diplomatic Academy.

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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