Research Report

CHINA-RUSSIA SECURITY RELATIONS:: STRATEGIC PARALLELISM WITHOUT PARTNERSHIP OR PASSION?

Richard Weitz
Copyright Date: Aug. 1, 2008
Pages: 175
OPEN ACCESS
https://www.jstor.org/stable/resrep11963
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. v-vi)
    DOUGLAS C. LOVELACE JR.

    Chinese-Russian security relations directly concern many subjects of interest to the Strategic Studies Institute. These areas include regional conflicts, nonproliferation issues, and military force balances. Given the importance of these two countries in international affairs, however, almost any foreign policy action of their governments affects some American national interest.

    For almost 2 decades, China and Russia have been strengthening their security ties. Nonetheless, as this monograph makes clear, the relationship between Beijing and Moscow remains in flux. In some cases, they share overlapping interests. In other instances, they compete for power and wealth, particularly for oil and gas resources.

    Many...

  2. (pp. 1-3)

    American security and defense planners are increasingly concerned about the military capabilities of China and Russia. In his annual assessment of global threats to the United States issued in early February 2008, Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell singled out the two countries as now having the technical capabilities “to target and disrupt” elements of the U.S. information and intelligence collection infrastructure.¹

    At the same time, General T. Michael Moseley, the Air Force Chief of Staff, cautioned in a speech at Air University that the United States had to plan to counter such “ascendant powers,” even while improving its response...

  3. (pp. 3-16)

    Unlike during the Cold War, China and Russia no longer fear the possibility of a shooting war with each other, at least not in the near term. Significantly, the two countries have largely accepted their common border. Yet, tensions persist over illegal Chinese immigration into Russia, as well as the inability of Chinese authorities to halt the spillover of pollution from China into Russia. Russians worry in particular about the longterm implications of China’s exploding population for Russia’s demographically and economically stagnant eastern regions, a situation some Russian leaders already consider to be a major security threat.

    Since the disintegration...

  4. (pp. 17-24)

    In some respects, China and Russia should be natural energy partners. Chinese energy demand is soaring, and Russia’s oil and gas deposits lie much closer to China than the more distant energy sources of Africa and the Persian Gulf. Yet, economic and political differences have kept the two countries divided over several vital issues relating to their mutual energy security, weakening prospects for an exclusive Russo- China energy bloc in Eurasia.

    Energy security invariably represents an important agenda item at Russian-Chinese leadership summits. As a result of China’s surging economy, China has become one of the world’s largest purchasers of...

  5. (pp. 24-34)

    For over a decade, Russian military exports to China have constituted the most important dimension of the two countries’ security relationship. Russian firms have derived substantial revenue from the sales, which also helped sustain Russia’s military industrial complex during the lean years of the 1990s. The PLA was able to acquire advanced conventional weapons that Chinese firms could not yet manufacture. Now this situation is changing. The Chinese defense industry has become capable of producing much more sophisticated armaments. Moscow now confronts the choice of either seeing its Chinese market decrease dramatically or agreeing to sell even more advanced weapons...

  6. (pp. 34-51)

    China and Russia participate in other forms of military cooperation in addition to their arms trade. The two armed forces regularly engage in exchanges of military officers. Frequent visits take place between senior military officials, including annual meetings of defense ministers and the chiefs of staffs of the armed forces of both countries. In March 2006, for instance, PLA Chief of Staff General Liang Guanglie met with the Russian Chief of Staff, the Russian Defense Minister, and the Russian Security Council in Moscow, reciprocating a visit by the Russian Chief of Staff to Beijing the previous March.88 Contacts take place...

  7. (pp. 51-65)

    Central Asia perhaps represents the geographic region where the security interests of China and Russia most overlap. Although the two countries often compete for Central Asian energy resources and commercial opportunities, their shared security interests mean that, for the most part, the newly independent states of Central Asia—Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan (the “Stans”)—have not become venues for rivalry between Moscow and Beijing, as was once expected, but rather major unifying elements in Chinese-Russian relations. Nevertheless, this harmony arises primarily because Beijing views the region as of lower strategic priority than does Moscow, which still considers Central...

  8. (pp. 65-77)

    China’s and Russia’s overlapping and diverging interests in Central Asia have manifested themselves most visibly in the SCO. Since its founding in 2001, the SCO has essentially functioned as a Chinese-Russian condominium, providing Beijing and Moscow with a convenient multilateral framework to manage their interests in the newly independent countries of Central Asia. At present, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan are also full members, while India, Iran, Mongolia, and Pakistan have observer status in the organization.

    The SCO emerged from a series of border security negotiations begun in November 1992 between Beijing and the former Soviet republics located along China’s...

  9. (pp. 78-88)

    China and Russia share a concern with the evolving political, military, and economic situation on the Korean peninsula, which borders both countries. In all these dimensions, however, the two governments have thus far pursued largely independent but parallel policies toward both North and South Korea, with Beijing assuming a clear lead role and Moscow often struggling to maintain even a supporting position.

    China and Russia share a concern with the evolving political, military, and economic situation on the nearby Korean peninsula. During the Korean War, the two countries jointly backed the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) regime with armaments,...

  10. (pp. 88-96)

    Japan’s relations with both China and Russia remain troubled. Unlike the situation in Europe, the end of the Cold War has not brought about an equally dramatic improvement in the regional security environment of East Asia. In addition, whereas China and Russia have largely resolved their border disputes, their bilateral relations with Japan are each plagued by serious territorial conflicts. Nevertheless, Beijing and Moscow have both pursued their typically conflicted relations with Tokyo one-on-one, with no evident attempt to coordinate their postures regarding territorial disputes with Japan, or their anxieties over Japan’s growing security role, or other issues.

    Despite the...

  11. (pp. 96-98)

    Russia has taken care to ensure that its relations with Taiwan remain correct but profitable. During the Cold War, Taiwan refused to establish any official contact with communist countries. Even after the emergence of the Sino-Soviet split, Taiwanese authorities still prohibited direct trade with the USSR, whose government continued to adhere to a “One China Policy.” It was only during the 1980s that commerce began to develop between the two countries.248

    After the end of the Cold War, Taipei sought to develop better relations with Russia’s newly emergent noncommunist government. In October 1990, Moscow Mayor Gavriil Kharitonovich Popov visited Taiwan,...

  12. (pp. 98-103)

    The limits of foreign policy harmonization between China and Russia are also visible in South Asia, where the two governments have adopted sharply divergent positions on important issues. For instance, despite the recent improvement in Chinese-Indian relations, Russia’s ties with New Delhi still remain much stronger than those between China and India. Persistent border disputes, differences over India’s growing security ties with the United States, competition over energy supplies, and other sources of Sino-Indian tensions have consistently impeded realization of the vision of a Moscow-Beijing-New Delhi axis that has periodically surfaced over the past decade (recall especially the endorsement of...

  13. (pp. 103-117)

    The governments of China and Russia have pursued parallel but typically uncoordinated policies in the Middle East. They both want to sell Iran weapons and other items, and have defended Tehran in the Security Council even while warning against any Iranian ambitions to acquire nuclear weapons. In addition, they both opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq but are concerned that an early American military withdrawal from that country could lead to an increase of Islamic militarism throughout the Middle East, which could disrupt China’s energy supplies and reinvigorate the Muslim insurgency in southern Russia. Thus far, however, neither country has...

  14. (pp. 117-128)

    Although Chinese-Russian relations have improved along several important dimensions, security cooperation between China and Russia has remained tenuous. The two governments support each other on some issues but differ on others, as might be expected from an opportunistic relationship in which both countries following their own interests. Since these interests conflict as well as coincide, the relationship is not necessarily moving in an anti-American direction. But since nothing these two great powers do on the world stage is insignificant, Washington must continue to monitor carefully developments in Beijing and Moscow. Thus far, their fitfully improving relationship has not presented a...