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Huanqiu: Will a Warmer Russia-U.S. Relationship Affect China’s Closeness to Russia?

Huanqiu (Global Times) published an editorial discussing the impact of Trump’s winning the election on China’s relationship with Russia. Below are excerpts from the article:

“The international strategic community is forming a kind of expectation. Because of Trump, the U.S.-Russian relationship will improve. This expectation is not only based on Trump and Putin’s interaction. It is also based on the following analysis: First, Obama’s opposition to Putin has gone too far; therefore, a back swing itself has a high probability. Second, Trump has expressed a preference for placing a priority on domestic policy. Easing the relations with big countries can reduce external constraints.”

“As China, the United States, and Russia have long been regarded as a ‘big triangle’ in international relations, to what extent the Russia-U.S. relations will improve and whether they will have an impact on intimate Sino-Russian relations formed in recent years, has become the next extension of the topic.”

“First of all, it is not normal for Russia-U.S. relations to be highly strained and for the United States to lead the Western countries in imposing sanctions on Russia. If the relations between the two countries improve somewhat, it will not affect China’s interests. The starting point for improving relations between Russia and the United States is obviously not to ‘deal with China.’”

“For a fundamental change to occur in Russia-U.S. relations, some of conditions that contribute to their opposition need to be removed, including: the United States to ease NATO’s eastward expansion strategy; to stop the deployment of medium-range missiles in Eastern Europe; not to increase or even to withdraw NATO forces; to recognize Russia’s interests regarding the Ukraine issue; to strengthen coordination on the Syria issue; and to reach a compromise on the future of the Assad regime. It now appears that Washington has little room to recede. Moscow has been pressed into a corner and has almost no room to take a step back. The European allies of the U.S. are worried about having “Washington ‘abandon’ them.”

“A series of long-term factors have contributed to the close relationship between China and Russia. The strategic benefits such relations have brought to the two countries have been very stable. Sino-Russian cooperation is completely positive for Moscow. It is not through the exchange of a special price Russia has to pay. Therefore, Russia does not have a reason to develop the Russia-U.S. relationship at the expense of the Sino-Russian relationship.”

“A pattern of forces determines the basic form of the China-U.S.-Russia triangle. Its primary operational formula is to achieve a balance of power and of the situation. When the United States is in the strongest position of the three parties and also takes the most obvious offensive position, it is logical in international politics that China and Russia will become closer. Under normal circumstances, the better the Sino-Russian relationship is, the more flexibility each side will have to develop its own relations with the United States.”

“In this triangle, Sino-Russian relations will certainly be the most stable bilateral relations for a long time into the future. These relations experienced the test from Yeltsin’s era to Putin’s. During this period, Russia has gone from jumping into the West to becoming an enemy of the West. If Sino-Russian relations are solid, the two countries will be able to support each other back-to-back, and shake hands with other countries without a burden. [We] believe that the leaders of the two countries and the diplomatic elite groups will cherish the situation created by the joint efforts of China and Russia.”

Source: Huanqiu, November 16, 2016