For the majority of the second half of the 20th century, the three greatest powers of the world were at odds. The schism between neighbours that resulted in the so-called Sino-Soviet split allowed the United States to spend much of the ensuing decades, particularly beginning in the 1970s trying to exploit the split between the great powers of the wider global east.
This of course is somewhat recent history, but the overall history of Russo-Chinese relations has been one of neighbourly cooperation and good will. From the 17th century until 20th century, China and Russia had no serious disputes and many important trading links.
The troubles of the turbulent 20th century have not only been reversed, but the generally good relations between the two countries are now at an all time high.
President Xi Jinping has just landed in Moscow, his third visit this year.
After a day of informal meetings including a dinner with his friend President Vladimir Putin, the two leaders will sign a series of trade deals said to be worth $10 billion while also discussing the commitment of both Presidents to develop further bilateral measures of cooperation and a commitment by both parties to China’s One Belt–One Road global trade, commerce and infrastructure project.
The timing of the meeting also holds great symbolic importance. Later this week, the Presidents of China and Russia will meet with the leaders of other powers at the G20 summit in Germany.
However, prior to that China and Russia have shown that their bilateral relationship takes precedence over the talking-shop that is the G20. While Presidents Xi and Putin are able to get things done and at a cordial level at that, the G20 summit like many similar global summits, are generally expensive brew-ha-has, which ultimately signify nothing.
Furthermore, this comes less than 24 hours after a US ship strayed into Chinese territorial waters in the South China Sea, a clear provocation by the United States which continues to undermine Chinese claims to its regional waters and the islands of the South China Sea. Even America’s traditional post-colonial ally in the South China Sea, Philippines has now decided to adopt a cooperative and fraternal approach to diplomacy with China as President Rodrigo Duterte has rejected the anti-Chinese posture of his predecessors.
China and Russia have shown that their modern alliance which has been built on historic good-will and which has overcome the troubles of the often overly-ideologically driven 20th century, is a bulwark that the US will not be able to break-apart.
China’a admonition of America’s deployment of THAAD missile systems in South Korea is a further demonstration that it is China which has lost patience with American aggression in Asia which has been irritatingly combined with mixed messages over China’s sphere of influence in East Asia and South East Asia.
President Xi said of America’s incursion into Chinese territorial waters,
“Bilateral relations have been affected by some negative factors. China has expressed its position to the US”.
The relationship between China and Russia reaffirms that both sides are more important to each other than the United States is to either.
American arrogance in trying to play China against Russia has once again backfired spectacularly. The foregone conclusion in respect of the success of the meeting between Presidents Putin and Xi is a reinforcement of the reality that two of the three super-powers are close allies and the other is increasingly a source of annoyance for both.