For many decades in the past, China and Russia were classified as ‘communist states’ by Western nations. Even today as both nations boast strong economies, they are still being classified as ‘communist states’ when in fact they both have stronger economies than many Western nations. In fact, both China and Russia singularly have much stronger economies than the US. How are both nations forging such deep and permanent strategic alliance?
Both economies view the future and potential of their countries with great pragmatism, confidence, and enthusiasm. It is to say that Beijing and Moscow rule pragmatically and prudently in their internal and external relationships. They have very strong ties with each other in intra-trade matters as well as geopolitically as both countries are BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) trading, economic, and political partners. Also, neither country makes a global decision unless the other country is consulted. This means that they talk regularly and frequently with each on geopolitical and global economic issues of the present day.
However, the previously mentioned causal factors are not the only reasons for their deep bilateral relationship. Firstly, China and Russia share permanent membership on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). Secondly, both countries are members of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Thirdly, both countries are the two leading economies in the BRICS alliance. Fourthly, China and Russia are the founding nations of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Fifthly, China and Russia have been major buyers of IMF bonds since 2009 when they bought $50 billion and $10 billion respectively. Lastly, both economies rank in the top our holders of foreign exchange reserves in the world with China ranking first and Russia ranking fourth.
To delineate these causal factors is to explain them in these words. Currently, China and Russia comprise forty percent (40%) of the UNSC membership, and both countries wield very strong, multilateral, and no nonsense voting power on the UN Security Council. Recently, both countries voted contrary to the other UNSC members (US, France, and the UK) on the Security Council – particularly when voting on involvement in Syria.
Both China and Russia are currently WTO members. As WTO members with strong economies, they are able to protect their trade interests in WTO forums as China is a major exporting economy and Russia is a major oil and gas producer and exporting economy.
Given the fact that BRICS is a major emerging economics alliance, both economies exercise intra-trade with each other, as well as with the other BRICS economies of Brazil, India, and South Africa. In fact, China enjoys wielding veto power in the BRICS alliance. However, it was the then President Vladimir Putin of Russia who successfully organized a meeting between Brazil, Russia, India, and China on the sidelines of a UN General Assembly Meeting in September 2006; therefore, fueling the BRICS alliance politically and economically since then.
Both China and Russia are geographically Asian countries as China is an East Asian nation and Russia is a North Asian nation. As both economies are growing, China and Russia seized the geopolitical opportunity to forge closer relationships with Central Asian nations. These Central Asian countries border China and Russia and have tremendous oil and gas reserves in the Caspian Sea. For these reasons, China and Russia decided to organize the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) originally founded in 1996 with member countries of Central Asia. Recently, China and Russia welcomed India and Pakistan into SCO at the same time. This decision was made to create more geopolitical stability with their neighboring countries and to encourage India and Pakistan to resolve their territorial dispute over Kashmir. This is also one way China and Russia maintain a balance of power and sphere of influence in their geopolitical backyard. And, the combined SCO membership of China, India, Pakistan, and Russia becomes a counterweight and counter balance to NATO as all four countries have hefty nuclear arsenal and programs.
In the Central Asian region, China is running oil pipelines from the Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan and Tajikistan. On the other hand, Russia implements military exercises between its former satellite states of Central Asia and Russia, as well as maintain oil refineries in those countries. Currently, both Afghanistan and Iran maintain observer status in SCO. With Afghanistan and Iran as SCO observer status countries, both China and Russia keep dialogue going with the geopolitically unstable Afghanistan and with Iran who ‘supposedly’ has nuclear weapons.
Since 2009, China and Russia have bought a combined $60 billion of the $150 billion in bonds offered by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). By purchasing these bonds, both countries have contributed to the IMF becoming a debtor entity to both economies.
China and Russia’s sheer financial resources – particularly in foreign exchange reserves – are enormous. For example, China has $3.3 trillion in foreign exchange reserves as of December 2012, and Russia has $537 billion in foreign exchange reserves as of December 2012.
In conclusion, this is a strategic and bilateral alliance on the road to a permanent relationship because both China and Russia operate in a sphere of cooperation, mutual respect, and pragmatism with each, and they are both effective when it comes to working with other nations multilaterally. As a result, China and Russia are able to continue to maintain strong economies because of their ‘non confrontational’ and ‘non interference’ policies toward other countries.