China, Russia share goal of independent policy

By Oleg Ivanov Source:Global Times Published: 2015-3-2 20:08:02

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Some in the Western political researches and mass media speculate that possible clashes between Russia and China will occur as a result of China's rise. In particular US prominent scholar Joseph Nye indicated the imbalances in Russian-Chinese relations and made a conclusion that the ties between the two countries ran into deep problems.

Is Nye's judgment correct? What are the perspectives for Russian-Chinese relations? Obviously, all countries go through hard times and have ups and downs in their relations. The same goes for Russia and China. Both states got over the negative heritage of the 1960s and 1970s and established a strategic partnership. It is true that there is an asymmetry in the Russian and Chinese potential, but does it threaten our relations? Many countries face asymmetry and may even have contradictions. For example, Canada and the US have asymmetry in their potential and they even have a dispute about the water within the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Are both countries doomed to start a war? Not at all.

The US regards China's rise as a challenge and a potential threat to its dominance in the Pacific. The latest US National Security Strategy maintains, "At the same time, we will manage competition from a position of strength while insisting that China uphold international rules and norms on issues ranging from maritime security to trade and human rights. We will closely monitor China's military modernization and expanding presence in Asia."

This is the reason why the US introduced its new rebalance strategy to contain China and came up with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trying to head the economic mainstream and push China to the periphery. The disputes over Taiwan and the Senkaku\Diaoyu Islands make relations between China and the US even more complicated. Despite US displeasure, China pursues independence from the US policy. The plan to construct "the second Panama channel" through Nicaragua with Russian participation is a vivid illustration.  

If one compares the relations between Russia and China, the situation is different. Neither Russia nor China tries to impose its will on each other, to export its values or have territorial claims on each other. There are no serious contradictions in bilateral relations. On the whole, the positive dynamics are steady. Russia found itself under heavy pressure from the US because of its desire to pursue an independent policy.

Both Russia and China have common ground in building a new world order where non-Western countries will have more political, economic and social freedom and responsibility. Both partners are interested in resisting efforts from Western countries and institutions to impose their rules of the political and economic game. Russia and China have come out against Western pressure and attempts to limit their sovereignty. Both countries are seeking joint resolution of global problems. Their single approach is that the rule of law should be the guiding line for world politics.

Common concerns and shared interests need common institutions. What format is the best for this purpose? Some experts believe that an alliance is an appropriate option. I tend to suppose that the alliance is not a possible option. In terms of security, Russia and China cooperate successfully in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. There is no need and intention to transform SCO into a "Euroasian NATO" to confront the West as some experts in Russia suggest.  

The current US National Security Strategy states that US leadership is central to strengthening global finance rules. Nowadays, this American plan is out of date. An evolving multipolar world requires new approaches. The more pillars a construction has, the more stable it is. The same conceptual approach may be applied in the world economic system. This is the field where Russia and China are working together to create an alternative to the Western financial and economic system. In this respect, the project of BRICS is crucial. It is not aimed at confronting or replacing Western institutions. The goal is to give BRICS as well as other willing nations an option to build a parallel independent financial and economic system. In the framework of BRICS, Russia and China may achieve the goals which they cannot achieve on their own. At the same time, BRICS has a complimentary basis, and thus it may serve as a stabilizing structure if any BRICS member tries to play a dominant role.

Besides, BRICS can be an insurance policy in case the IMF or the World Bank fails and the world plunges into another economic crisis. In this respect, BRICS will meet the interests of the whole world. Certainly, the development of BRICS is a long-term and complicated process but as the proverb says, if at first you do not succeed, try, try and try again. 

The author is chair of the Political Science Department at the Diplomatic Academy in Moscow.

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