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Should Trump Worry About the Putin-Xi Meeting?

April 27, 2019 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Russian president Vladimir Putin left his meeting with North
Korea’s Kim Jong-un to journey to Beijing. The former’s
destination: a forum on China’s infamous Belt and Road
initiative, where Putin announced the approval of a toll road tying
Belarus to Kazakhstan.

The more important objective, though, for the Russian leader was
meeting with Chinese president Xi Jinping. The former lauded Belt
and Road “an extremely important initiative” and said
the two countries’ ties had reached “an unprecedentedly
high level.”

In fact, neither statement is true. The two governments haggled
over Russian support for that single project for six years, and the
road isn’t scheduled to be completed until 2024. If and when
it actually opens is anyone’s guess. This suggests something
other than “an extremely important initiative.”

The Chinese-Russian
bilateral relationship is better than at many points in the past,
but it remains superficial.

The bilateral relationship is better than at many points in the
past, but it remains superficial. Last fall when the two leaders
met, Putin announced: “We have established trust-based
relations on the political, security and defense tracks.”
That was similarly overstated since trust plays a minimal part of
the China-Russia relationship.

In fact, ties remain focused on dislike rather than like. The
two nations share a fractious past but few present interests.
Russian empire superseded the decrepit Chinese empire.
Revolutionary Russia supported revolutionary China. Nationalism
trumped communism as the two totalitarian states clashed over their
disputed boundary. In recent years Moscow formally defenestrated
revolution but kept repression while Beijing quietly abandoned
communism in favor of de facto fascism. Both now are formally
enthralled with authoritarianism.

Yet the People’s Republic of China (PRC) treats the sanctity of
Russian military technology about the same as the former handles
American business secrets. The PRC extended its economic ties
throughout Central Asia, states once part of the Soviet Union. In
the Asia-Pacific, the Chinese navy grew to vie with the American
fleet for dominance, while Russian ships rusted away in port.
Population rich and commercially aggressive China appears poised to
absorb Russia’s sparsely populated east. Theirs is anything but a
relationship forged in heaven.

However, Beijing and Moscow share one very big objective: resist
U.S. dominance. Washington expanded NATO up to Russia’s borders;
America’s navy patrols the Asia-Pacific and treats those waters as
an American lake. Elsewhere there is no issue upon which Washington
fails to sanctimoniously pronounce its opinion and piously attempt
to enforce its judgment.

That alone would be enough to irritate leaders of proud nations
with long histories. However, U.S. policy is consistently deployed
against friends and allies of China and Russia, such as North
Korea, Cuba, Serbia, and Syria. Moreover, Washington uses …read more

Source: OP-EDS