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New ‘Red’ Bloc: Russian-Chinese Alliance

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On October 1, China celebrated the 70th Anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Republic of China. This analysis is designed to provide a broader perspective to the Chinese-Russian military cooperation at the moment.

New ‘Red’ Bloc: Russian-Chinese Alliance

Written and produced by SF Team: J.Hawk, Daniel Deiss, Edwin Watson, Harold Hoover

For starters, one should note that the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China are not in any formal military alliance providing for a form of common defense such as NATO for example. They are, however, in a longstanding collective security arrangement exemplified by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as well as a number of bilateral treaties and agreements governing mutual relations.  This includes the delineation of a mutual border to eliminate territorial disputes.  Such disputes have, in the past, been a perennial source of conflict between Russia and China, occasionally erupting into outright warfare, most recently in the form of the Amur River border clashes of the late 1960s.

As far as collective defense is concerned, the two countries have a shared interest in the form of preventing further encroachment upon their security and economic interests in their respective border buffer areas. For Russia, that area is Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and friendly states of the Middle East such as Syria. For China, it’s the South China Sea, Myanmar, Hong-Kong, and, to a certain extent, Central Asia as well. While the geography of conflict is almost entirely non-overlapping for the two countries, the identity of security concern sources is virtually identical—it’s the United States and, more broadly, NATO, along with a loose array of regional allies interested in establishing a lasting Anglo-Saxon hegemony on a planetary scale. Russia and China, on the other hand, for rather obvious and understandable reasons, are disinterested in being part of a world order built on the Washington-centric principle. The histories of the two countries are replete with examples of aggression by Western powers believing themselves to be the bearers of some historic mission. The current edition of “American Exceptionalism” does not differ essentially from earlier episodes, not in ultimate aim or in the combination of military and non-military approaches towards imposing one’s will on non-Western political actors. Instead, Russia and China are in agreement that the ideal world order would be multipolar, rather than unipolar or even a bipolar one. It is with that aim, which actually closely resembles the vision of world order reflected in the institutional design of the UN Security Council—a multipolar world populated by 5 major powers which maintain order in their own respective spheres of influence and do not seek self-aggrandizement at the expense of other major powers.

Such military cooperation as exists between Russia and China is intended to further that objective. It is not more extensive than its current form for two reasons. Reason one is that both Moscow and Beijing still hold out the possibility of Washington coming to its senses after it realizes the limits of its power and acknowledges that it cannot dictate its will to other major powers.  For historic and cultural reasons, this belief is rather stronger in Moscow than Beijing. Reason two is that neither Moscow nor Beijing wishes to become the other’s satellite or even overly dependent upon the other. Russia needs markets for its defense products to underwrite the development of future technologies and to lower the cost of weapon system procurement.  It does not need China to become entirely self-sufficient in that realm or to start competing with Russia in other markets. China wants advanced weapon systems to parry the build-up of advanced weapons all along its periphery.  It does not want to be overly dependent upon Russia which could, after all, undergo a political reorientation toward the West and away from China. One of the aims of the regime change push against Russia of the past decade was precisely that: once Russia becomes a US satellite, China’s position becomes far less tenable.

This has largely been a one way street—Russia sells to China, but does not buy from China—for the past several decades. There is also a discernible pattern—China acquires a Russian weapon system, copies it, and then puts it into production and service. This approach has not always worked. If it did, China would not be continually procuring advanced Russian combat aircraft for example.  China is, however, self-sufficient in small arms, armored vehicles, artillery, missiles and rocketry, and most naval needs, with many of even today’s advanced Chinese systems (e.g. main battle tanks) still bearing recognizable signs of their Soviet origin. Whether these Chinese weapons are as capable as Russian or Western equivalents is another question. China’s leadership clearly believes they are good enough and, moreover, has to contend with its own “military industrial complex” and its desire to master the mass production of weapons.  China’s priorities do include the development of an indigenous technological base through a combination of internal investments and acquisition of technologies from abroad. The foreign sources of technologies include the West, but also Russia (through industrial espionage) and even former Soviet republics where components of the Soviet military-industrial complex still reside. China’s efforts to acquire Ukraine’s Motor Sich and its legacy Soviet technologies is a case in point.

However, there are reasons to believe China’s indigenous weapons still lag behind those of Russia. This is particularly pronounced in the aerospace realm, where the Su-35 remains the most advanced air combat fighter in the PLAAF’s inventory, in spite of the existence of numerous PRC-designed fighter aircraft. China’s industry has struggled with the design of jet engines suitable for gen. 4++/5 fighters of which capabilities such as “super-cruise” are demanded. It is also debatable whether China’s industry can replicate the performance of Russia’s phased array radars or electronic warfare systems. That the Su-35 represents superior capability to Chinese designs was evident in the Russia-China negotiations concerning the purchase of such systems. China was initially interested in procuring only a small batch of the fighters, suggesting an interest in not so much re-equipping the PLAAF but in “cloning” the aircraft or its components. Ultimately Russia prevailed upon China to purchase a substantial quantity of the aircraft.

The situation in other realms is likely not different. In head-to-head Tank Biathlon contests under controlled conditions and with highly trained crews, China’s Type 96B did not display superiority over Russia’s T-72B3, even though it’s of a newer design. It is also interesting that while Russia’s naval shipbuilding is struggling to meet the Russian Navy’s demand for new construction and refurbishment of existing ships China’s naval industry, by contrast, is churning out major surface combatants by the dozen. Russia has not placed orders for any ships in Chinese shipyards.

Finally, there is a striking absence of joint weapon system development even though the security needs of the two countries overlap. Instead, we see parallel development of weapons with similar capabilities in both countries. This is likely due to Russia’s fear of compromising its superior technological know-how in joint development efforts with China.

While Russia and the PRC have held joint exercises on land, air, and sea, and the Chinese military is a regular participant in Russia’s annual Army Games, to the point of bringing its own equipment, these exercises still have a mostly political rather than military character. They are intended to demonstrate Moscow and Beijing’s solidarity on a broad range of political issues rather than to develop procedures for joint military action. It appears that both Moscow and Beijing seek to preserve their own freedom of action. Thus military engagement between the US and China in the Pacific would not automatically provoke a Russian response, and, likewise, a US-Russia clash in the Black Sea or Mediterranean would not necessarily draw in China’s military. Instead, the joint exercises are intended to impress upon third parties the possibility of a joint Russian-Chinese military action at some point in the future where urgent national interests dictate it.  They certainly are laying the groundwork for a future expansion of military cooperation through the establishment of stable and persistent military-to-military contacts, but the leap into a military alliance has yet to be made.

The Russia-China relationship is symptomatic of a future multipolar world order where alliances between major powers will be shallow and situational. Indeed, a deep alliance integration is only possible where one member of the alliance clearly dominates all other members, as in the case of NATO, or where the allies are so deeply integrated in the political and economic sense that military integration is a logical next step. The discussions concerning a “European Army” are an example of that latter pattern of military cooperation. Since Russia and China are very likely to dominate one another, or to become economically very highly interdependent, the current level of cooperation will continue unless a dire military threat emerges in the future. Current US military modernization policies are clearly intended to pose that level of threat to both countries to which they would almost certainly attempt to deflect through advancing their cooperation to the next level. At the same time, both Moscow and Beijing still believe Washington has not irreversibly crossed the Rubicon of great power conflict.

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  • colin adese

    The US will beat China & Russia in a Gay Parade hands down. lol

    • neil barron

      At least they can have gay parades here but not there.
      It’s still called Freedom here.

      • smertzakrov

        sexual perversions r freedom in the anglosphere…LOL…murikans r the most puritanical, freedom/justice hating people on earth

    • Toronto Tonto

      and in any other competition easily . just remember no drugs losers .

    • smertzakrov

      the celebration of homosexuality (Camille Paglia) in the anglosphere is 1 more proof that the US empire will collapse in less than 10 years, as Galtung predicts….for amerikans, freedom is the choice between coke and Pepsi…the most freedom hating people on earth…as has been observed by Postman, Bloom, Bauman, etc, “amerikans love their oppression”

  • RichardD

    A well written article that addresses the current reality of the situation as I understand it.

    • Toronto Tonto

      But you cant understand shit ?? .

      • RichardD

        Don’t you better things to do than harrass people with your insanity.

        • Zionism = EVIL

          at least he did not use EH, his only known Canuck archaic colloquialism :)

          • RichardD

            What’s EH?

          • Zionism = EVIL

            Some Canadians of Anglo background in the last century used “eh” to represent a sound made in speech, especially one used to express inquiry, surprise, or to elicit agreement. The origins are Scottish or Gaelic, some of the new immigrants try to act Canadian by using it, but sound funny as educated Canucks no longer use it and it is considered crude language of the uneducated class. But this Uki Jew moron is clueless.

          • RichardD

            When was the last time that you heard an American talk like John Wayne? I’m within a mile of the Canadian border every week and have never heard them talk like that. That’s why I drew a blank.

          • RichardD

            I stopped watching the Jew tube 25 or 30 years ago before I knew that it was the Jew tube. But I knew that it was mind pollution. So I’m not up on the stupid caractitures that they use for people.

    • Zionism = EVIL

      The Jew manipulated post WW2 global plunder based on thuggery, injustice, oppression, wars and economic terrorism eventually had to end, the Americunt dumbasses just expedited their own demise by Zionist fanned wars and creating global terrorism to promote a delusional hegemonic agenda based on hubris, China, Russia and a emerging host of other nations mostly in Eurasia are quickly filling in the global leadership spots as nature abhors a vacuum. In the next decade we will see a total global economic, strategic and power transformation. The Jews and their endless greed, evil and devious bloodlust destroyed western civilizations.

  • Toronto Tonto

    looks like china will get Siberia back EH

  • Lazy Gamer

    This also explains why China still welcomes American money. And why Russia still pines to be welcomed back to Europe.

    • smertzakrov

      your stupidity is unsurprising….your worship of money and sexual repression is observed by everyone from Tocqueville, Gore Vidal, Freud to Riesman to Slater, etc

      • Steve Parsons

        You understand Tocqueville dies long ago, right? Try to keep up with some current citations to support your overbread and often false generalizations. A study perhaps done in our lifetimes would be be a good start?

        • smertzakrov

          Interesting that Tocqueville is admired by conservatives like Alan Bloom, Liberals like Morris Berman and Marxists…”any American that has not read Tocqueville is a twerp”. Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

    • Gary Sellars

      Russia doesn’t “pine” for any such thing. Russians elites have given up on their old desire to be accepted by the West as a equal partner (as US/EU simply wants Russia to accept subjugation). Independence and soverignty is now the order of the day, but Russia would prefer a better political environment free of attempted financial/economic sabotage and general spitefulness.

      • Lazy Gamer

        Russia just recently offered to freeze deployment of nuclear missiles in Europe. Nato turned it down. Sanctions against Russia are still in place, narratives are against russia like skripal, donbass, etc. But despite that, nord stream 2 is still go despite lots of eu roadblocks.

        • Gary Sellars

          Yep, the NATOstani idiots are having tantrums and throwing their toys from the cot, but in Russia the dogs bark and the caravan moves on…

          Loving it.

  • Tommy Jensen

    Still not taking into account our US Space Command Defense Combat Centre with military space ultra modern technology with photonic precisions weapons!

  • smertzakrov

    the US empire is near collapse w a 22 trillion USD debt (Russia and China have nearly no foreign debt)….amerikans too incompetent and uneducated, they require immigrants to harvest their crops, perform manual labor and other non-amerikans to populate professions that require thinking…amerikans can only work as waiters, cooks and bookkeepers (appropriate for money worshippers)

  • Interesting article.
    I would question the implicit definition of france and uk as “powers” – other than the veto power in security council they have no military asset and no will to fight ( other than a limited war to spread democracy, but lybia is a case in point, they do not get involved on the ground )
    Possible serious contenders for a multi polar world IMHO are India, Turkey, Pakistan

    • Zionism = EVIL

      Don’t forget Indonesia which is pretty pissed off with the Americunts and their Aussie lapdogs for destabilizing and gobbling up East Timor for oil and gas. Now they are after the Papua province that is rich in minerals, oil and gas too. Indonesia will be the fourth largest economy in the world, even India will have a bigger economy than the Americunt morons.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5v9jt4__ho

      • hey, thanks for the graphic! besides Indonesia pointed out by you.. I totally overlooked Egypt !!

  • Ivan Freely

    Thanks for the clarification. I was wondering about claims of a military alliance that I’ve heard in the recent past. BTW, you left out Taiwan in your analysis.

  • d’Artagnan

    Russia and China are the axis of sanity and will ensure the planets security from the destructive US warmongers.

    • Toronto Tonto

      Your fuccin delusional .

    • verner

      sort of agree

    • smertzakrov

      prima facie true

  • AM Hants

    How An Ever Sanctioning Superpower Is Losing Its Status
    The Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke yesterday at the yearly Valdai Discussion Club meeting in Sochi. A video with English translations and excerpts of the transcript are here.

    With regards to the global system Putin made an interesting historic comparison:

    in the 19th century they used to refer to a “Concert of Powers.” The time has come to talk in terms of a global “concert” of development models, interests, cultures and traditions where the sound of each instrument is crucial, inextricable and valuable, and for the music to be played harmoniously rather than performed with discordant notes, a cacophony. It is crucial to consider the opinions and interests of all the participants in international life. Let me reiterate: truly mutually respectful, pragmatic and consequently solid relations can only built between independent and sovereign states.
    Russia is sincerely committed to this approach and pursues a positive agenda.

    The Concert of Europe was the balance of power system between 1815 to 1848 and from 1871 to 1914:

    A first phase of the Concert of Europe, known as the Congress System or the Vienna System after the Congress of Vienna (1814–15), was dominated by five Great Powers of Europe: Prussia, Russia, Britain, France and Austria. […] With the Revolutions of 1848 the Vienna system collapsed and, although the republican rebellions were checked, an age of nationalism began and culminated in the unifications of Italy (by Sardinia) and Germany (by Prussia) in 1871. The German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck re-created the Concert of Europe to avoid future conflicts escalating into new wars. The revitalized concert included France, Britain, Austria, Russia, and Italy with Germany as the main continental power economically and militarily.
    Bismark’s concert kept peace in a usually warring Europe for 43 years. If Putin wants to be the new Bismarck I am all for it…

    Read more: https://www.moonofalabama.org/

  • Robert McMaster

    The ‘collapse’ of the Soviet Union was artfully staged by the core leadership of the Communist International. To fox the U.S. and the imperialists and to ditch the deadweight of losers like the Ukraine. Under this PR cover the unity and advancement of socialism has been built through the strategic alliance of Russia and China. Under the able leadership of the communists who remain quietly in full control behind the scenes with all the prop scenery out front for the suckers.

    Onward to the complete and final victory of revolutionary socialism over the degenerate capitalists!