Skip to content

Guangming Daily: Are China and Russia Partners or Allies?

Guangming Daily, a newspaper directly affiliated with the Publicity Department of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee, published a lengthy article on China’s relations with Russia. The article’s English version appeared in the January/February 2016 issue of Foreign Affairs.  The author is Fu Ying, China’s former ambassador to the Philippines, Australia, and the U.K., who currently serves as chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National People’s Congress. Guangming Daily received the exclusive authorization from Fu to publish the full, translated Chinese text.

Fu reviewed the several occasions between the end of the nineteenth century and the middle of the twentieth century, when China entered into an alliance with the Russian empire or its successor, the Soviet Union. Each time, the arrangement proved short-lived, as each amounted to nothing more than an expediency between countries of unequal strength. 
It was not until 1989 that the two countries restored normalcy to their relations. Two years later, the Soviet Union disintegrated but Chinese-Russian relations carried on based on the principle of “no alliance, no conflict, and no targeting any third country.” In 1992, China and Russia announced that each would regard the other as a “friendly country” and issued a joint political statement stipulating that “the freedom of people to choose their own development path should be respected, while differences in social systems and ideologies should not hamper the normal progress of relations.” 
Fu noted that differences still exist between the two countries. She gave, as an example, that despite the resolution of the border issue, Chinese commentators sometimes make critical references to the nearly 600,000 square miles of Chinese territory that tsarist Russia annexed in the late nineteenth century. 
Fu also took stock of where things stand between China and the U.S. given that relations between China, Russia, and the U.S. are intertwined. Chinese president Xi Jinping remarked during his state visit to the U.S. last September that, "If China develops well, it will benefit the whole world and benefit the United States. If the United States develops well, it will also benefit the world and China." Fu went on to claim that Chinese leaders attribute much of their country’s rapid ascent to China’s successful integration into the world economy. 
Refuting suggestions from some scholars in China and elsewhere that, if the United States insists on imposing bloc politics on the region, China and Russia should consider responding by forming a bloc of their own, Fu argued that the Chinese leadership does not approve of such arguments. China does not pursue blocs or alliances; nor do such arrangements fit comfortably with Chinese political culture. Russia does not intend to form such a bloc, either. China and Russia should stick to the principle of partnership rather than build an alliance. As for China and the United States, they should continue pursuing a new model of major-country relations and allow dialogue, cooperation, and management of differences to prevail. 
Sources: Guangming Daily, December 23, 2015 
Foreign Affairs, January/February 2016, pp. 96-105