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What the China-Russia alliance means for the West?

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What the China-Russia alliance means for the West?

Forumul Economic Regional Moldova 2024 – Vatra Dornei, 4–6 iulie

Over the years, Beijing and Moscow have formed an anti-American and anti-liberal global alliance, united by their desire to change the status of Ukraine, Taiwan, and the current world order.

Russia may continue to receive significant support from China, which could sustain its economy and prolong its war against Ukraine for many years.

However, Beijing’s interests differ from Moscow’s in several areas. Increased Chinese support for Russia is risky for its already unstable economy, especially if the West extends sanctions to Chinese banks and companies. For the first time since mid-2022, Chinese exports to Russia fell in March and April of this year compared to the previous year, reflecting growing caution and payment problems faced by Russian importers due to increasing U.S. pressure.

Despite these developments, skepticism is warranted regarding Beijing’s official pacifist rhetoric. China’s long-term support for Russia indicates an interest in maintaining the confrontation and reaping economic and geopolitical benefits.

The war in Europe diverts Western resources and Washington’s attention from Beijing’s activities elsewhere. Russia’s dependence on China is already high and continues to grow as Chinese companies replace Russia’s former Western trade and investment partners.

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China’s relative power over Russia increases each month the war continues. While Russia’s arms industry generates pseudo-growth, masking economic decline, China’s economy, despite facing difficulties, continues to grow. China imports discounted Russian raw materials while flooding Russia with its consumer goods.

Moreover, Moscow is gradually transferring more of its latest military technologies to China. Although not a vassal state, Russia must meet Beijing’s increasing demands, whether for energy price discounts, a Chinese presence in Central Asia, or support for Chinese ambitions in Southern and Eastern Asia.

Beijing prefers Moscow neither completely wins nor loses in Ukraine. A Russian victory with Chinese support would strengthen Moscow but alienate the West from Beijing. A Russian defeat could destabilize Putin’s regime, potentially reducing China’s access to cheap energy, Russian markets, the Arctic, and military-technological secrets, and losing a key partner in its strategic rivalry with the U.S.

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Given these interests, China’s calls for peace should not be taken seriously. For over a decade, Beijing has violated its obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) by supporting Russia. Despite proclaiming respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty and borders in 1994 and 2013, Beijing’s economic assistance to Moscow has been crucial for Russia’s revision of state borders in Europe since 2014.

As Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine continues, Beijing has increased its rhetorical support for Moscow’s apologetic narratives. This includes endorsing Moscow’s alleged “legitimate security concerns” and the Kremlin’s deliberate misinterpretation of the concept of “indivisible security,” blaming the West for both the war in Ukraine and tensions in the Indo-Pacific.

Remarkably, Beijing has gone to great lengths to support Moscow despite the negative impact on its relations with the West and potential economic consequences. The country now faces an increasing risk of a trade war with the U.S.

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Currently, Beijing and Moscow project a united, formidable, and stable anti-democratic, anti-American coalition, which also includes rogue states like Iran, North Korea, and Syria. However, there are potential cracks in this informal alliance. For example, Russia’s growing ties with an emboldened North Korea could create a difficult ménage-à-trois, as Beijing has long struggled to control North Korea.

Moreover, as Matthew Kroenig outlines in his book “The Return of Great Power Rivalry,” autocratic regimes are prone to volatility in their foreign and domestic affairs. History shows that open political systems with rule of law and pluralism are more effective domestically and in handling international conflicts.

In this context, it’s crucial for the West to maintain its resolve and unity. This means providing Ukraine with all the support it needs today. A Ukrainian victory on the battlefield, achieved through Western support and the restoration of its territory, is the best way to contain Russia’s and China’s revisionism.

 


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