The concentration of Russian forces along the border with Ukraine is raising the possibility of a Russia-China axis in counterpart with the United States and its allies.
The meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Beijing days ago sparked speculation that the two great powers could ally against Washington on a number of issues.
Moscow and Beijing have supported each other in their opposition to NATO’s expansion into former Soviet republics and in backing China’s position on Taiwan.
But the relationship remains lopsided. China is booming economically and politically while Russia is increasingly isolated and inclined toward tactics seen during the Cold War, such as intimidation of neighboring countries.
China also remains against any action that could harm its territorial ambitions, be it in Taiwan, in the South China Sea or on the border with India.
The Associated Press explains some of the issues and potential obstacles to China-Russia relations:
What is the position on the Ukraine crisis?
China has not criticized Russia over the dispute with Ukraine, and has instead joined in the verbal barbs against the United States and its allies. At a conference in Munich this weekend, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi charged that “some power” is “encouraging antagonisms”.
However, in response to a question from conference head Wolfgang Ischinger, Wang stated that “the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries must be respected and protected, because that is a fundamental principle of international relations. .. Ukraine is no exception”.
What did the Xi-Putin summit achieve?
Xi and Putin met ahead of the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics, after which they issued a lengthy joint statement announcing a new and closer relationship.
Both countries “they support each other” against what Xi called “regional security threats” Yet the “international strategic stability” although they did not explicitly mention the United States.
It was the 38th meeting between the leaders, either by phone or in person, a number publicized by Beijing as indicative of a closeness between the two countries, which during the Cold War fought to be the leader of the socialist bloc.
Is there a link between the Ukrainian issue and Taiwan?
The Chinese Communist Party is clearly keeping a close eye on the US response to Russian actions, trying to figure out how Washington would respond if Beijing took action against Taiwan.
China has dispatched warplanes and staged military exercises, trying to undermine support for the self-governing island.
Washington grants jets, ships and other war material to Taiwan and by law must consider any threat to the island as of “serious concern”. That does not force the United States to intervene militarily to defend Taiwan, but the possibility has not been ruled out. Australia and Japan could also intervene in a possible conflict.
What is the position of Russia and China towards the US?
China is not adding its diplomatic weight to Russian foreign policy initiatives, but there are no signs that tensions with Washington are easing, said Shi Yinhong, a professor of international politics and director of the Center for American Studies at Renmin University. in Beijing.
“I believe that the Chinese government will first of all deal with China instead of dealing with Russia.Shi said.
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