20 June 2019

Are US and China leagued against US?

Sergiu Medar

During the three days visit in Russia, between 4th and 6th of June, China’s president, Xi Jinping, had some serious and large discussions with Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin. Both agreed on world’s main security and economic problems, but also on the common concerns regarding the future development of their countries. These two leaders’ visions are creating the proper premises for a future alliance, which would have common actions in security and new technologies, but would also try to combat US’s influence over the entire world.

Image source: Mediafax

Between 4th and 6th of June 2019, China’s president, Xi Jinping, made a three days visit in Russia, to celebrate the 70 years of diplomatic relations with the Russian state. Besides their bilateral discussions, both leaders participated at the International Economic Forum from Sankt Petersburg. Given the debated issues, as well as the agreed terms and the statements made across this meeting, they got to a point wherein their relation seems more like an alliance, which aims at combating US’s strategic interests on common interest areas.

In fact, when ending the discussion, Putin stated for TASS that both nations’ agreement on global issues is: “unprecedented”.

This strong partnership wants to cool down US’s pressures over both powers. Stating that “both countries’ relation passed the test of time”, Xi continued by saying that: “step by step, we managed to bring our relations to the highest level in history”.

Their relations, for the past 7 years, since Xi became leader of the Chinese Communist Party, was, as some analysts said, as a convenience marriage, wherein both states supported each other on different common interest problems. Now, as their relations with US got worse, Russia and China concluded that it is time to set a common action program on fields they have similar concerns on. This program’s consistency and steadiness comes from both big powers’ common interest in decreasing the influence and power of US, Europe and other liberal democracies in the global economy.

Putin underlined the asymmetry that exists between the states, as Russia is economically and demographically going down, meanwhile China is growing on both critical fields. Both leaders thought they have enough common interests to work together. To that end, the Russian and the Chinese armies cooperated during the military exercise Vostok 2018. The significance of their common application’s success refers to China’s interests in Russia, related to Xi’s entire route program, Belt and Road Initiative, from Europe to Central Asia, up to China.

During their discussion, they have approached many topics, from the international situation analysis to economic, military, governance, science, cultural and sport problems.

The most important topic they have approached was the cooperation in new technologies, particularly in artificial intelligence and communication. We already know Putin’s statement, according to which “who he has artificial intelligence’s control, has the entire world”. Following this logic, in February 2019, Putin had a meeting with the Russian companies’ leaders, who he asked to do more research in economy’s digitization. At the same time, Xi has conceived the Made in China 2025 program, whose essence is the extended approach of new technologies.

Putin and Xi have agreed to cooperate on high-end technologies, in terms of communication development. Russia decided to implement the 5G technology, through the cooperation between Huawei and the Russian company, MTS. The reason why Putin made this decision is the same reason why liberal-democratic states decided not to go for it. Huawei’s technologies allows public authorities to interfere in the private communication process, due to national security reasons. This technology was, and will be, adopted also by other authoritarian states, whose technologies relies also on population’s control. Therefore, we can state that there is a new threat emerging against the free world: digital authoritarianism.

Russia will provide China sophisticated military equipment, meanwhile China will give Russia access to high-end technologies in internet and communication’s use, to manipulate the population and get information. Admitting the Russian capabilities in influencing the electoral processes, but also the Chinese ones in entering different companies, universities, governmental agencies or political parties’ intelligence systems, both states found tempting and complementary fields to cooperate in. In order to get funds for the scientific research in high-end technologies, across the Economic Forum from Sankt Petersburg that they were part of, Putin was mentioning that a successful solution would be for the public partnerships with Russian companies to count also on the cooperation with private Chinese companies, which have financial potential.

To that end, we can mention the Chinese company Alibaba, one of world’s most profitable companies, which is about to end the negotiations with the Russian companies Megafon and Mail.ru, to create a mixed society in electronic trade on the Russian market and the Independent States Communities one. Alibaba is also seen as one of world’s leaders when it comes to artificial intelligence, having great relations with the Chinese government.

Putin and Xi Jinping had many discussion on the areas that could cause conflicts.

As for Iran, both parts agreed that the Middle East situation worsened due to US’s unilateral decision to withdraw from the INF treaty with Iran and impose sanctions over the Persian state. They recommended dialogue and the identification of a solution, excluding the military intervention.

In terms of what is happening in Venezuela, both states share the same perspective, which goes against US’s one. China’s president mentioned that his country will play a “constructive role” and will support the South-American state in getting back to normal. He blamed all foreign interferences, as well as the use of sanctions to force the political regime’s change.

One of the most important topics they have discussed about was the Arctic area. China’s president praised Moscow’s leader for seeing the strategic value of North Siberia’s maritime route, for a long time now, taking advantage on the global warming, which ended with the melting of a great part of the polar ice field, hereof, the opening of new navigation routes that would shorten with 40% the maritime route from Shanghai to Center of Europe and support China’s trade with the old continent. This route matches perfectly with Xi’s great political and commercial project, Belt and Road Initiative, in terms of the maritime part. To that end, both leaders agreed to develop some programs that China could use to build ports and other facilities that would increase the transport capacity not only of products, but also of Russian oil and gases from North Siberia, to the Chinese market.

Their similar approach in terms of terrorism made both countries have common objectives across the Cooperation Organization from Shanghai. They are permanently supporting the program launched back in 2001 on combating the radical Islamism, but also other objectives that are supporting security’s insurance in Central and East Asia.

In order to mark the new China-Russia relation, the Chinese leader called the Russian leader “my best friend”.

The new Russia-China relation, if developed as stated until now, is a major change in the global architecture of world’s diplomatic, economic and security relations.

Translated by Andreea Soare