Russian and Chinese strategic military collaboration and coordination is becoming ever closer compare with the Soviet past. President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia is helping China build and develop an early warning system to spot intercontinental ballistic missile launches. This is a clear indicator of the effective relationship between the Kremlin and Beijing and increasing the role of China in the world.
In an interview to Ankara Center for Crisis and Policy Studies, Political Analyst Dmitri Trenin analyses the military relationship between the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China.
Mr. Trenin, could you please provide information us about the early warning nuclear missile system that China will receive from Russia?
We do not know exactly the specific details of the agreement but it seems that there is no outright acquiring of a complete system. We may conclude that Russia will help China to build new and upgrade existing system elements, such as land-based radars, space-based satellites, and data analysis centers. China approached Russia about early warning systems because the Chinese leaderships consider that their current early-warning capabilities are old. For that reason, they may not compete with the United States of America and they need to upgrade early-warning capabilities.
What will be the possible reaction of the United States of America?
The White House does not feel the satisfaction about the development of military relationship between Russia and China. Nowadays, the USA are the greatest military powers in planet but the second and third greatest military powers in the world are Russia and China and they gradually approaching the United States and it becomes the reason of anxiety in. We should not forget that the United States and Russia as the only countries with compound early warning systems. The fact that China will join is not a threat to the United States because China equipped with a reliable early warning system should feel more confident in relation to the other great nuclear powers such as the USA and Russia and it brings the stabilization and the military balance especially in the East Asia. The other geopolitical actors would feel more confident that the Chinese system is reliable and modern. This mutual confidence is the necessary for the global strategic stability.
To what extent Russian will profit from this assistance to China?
Russian military technology is still superior to China’s thanks for the soviet reserves and experience and the presence of the nuclear triad. This collaboration allows Russia to save balance in the East Asia. The upgraded early warning system only gives China a small advantage in its strategic relationship with Russia and proves the real friendship between two states. The two military system are becoming more familiar with each other. They are taking part in joint training; making their weapons systems more compatible; and syncing their communications, logistics, tactics, and military doctrines
Is it possible that Moscow and Beijing will continue to integrate their security and military system?
Russian and Chinese military forces are interacting more, but integration is not yet happening. Russia and China officially deny that they are planning to form a military alliance. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov reconfirmed this again recently.
Chinese and Russian military troops have been training together for a decade now. They raised the level of joint exercises from anti-terrorism exercises to China’s participation in Russia’s major strategic drills. The two militaries have conducted war games on land; naval manoeuvres in the East and South China Seas, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Baltic Sea; and joint air patrols over the Sea of Japan.
Which kind of response do you expect form the United States of America?
The USA monitors that military relationship between Russia and China because Russia has the advanced conventional military systems of own production.
The United States is still militarily dominant in the globe, but its margin of dominance is narrowing. To regain the advantage, Washington is considering deploying systems in East Asia that were previously banned by the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. This will complicate the security environment in the region and unfortunately, tensions between China and the United States, but also between Russia and the United State will grow considerably.
How do you see the future of the military relationship between Russia and China?
The relationship between Russia and China are not ideal and perfect. For instance, China does not officially recognize Crimea as part of Russia, and Kremlin has a neutral approach on Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea. Yet the strength of economic cooperation is clear, not only in areas where their political interests align but even more crucially in areas where they do not.
In the nearest future, while Vladimir Putin stays as the head of state in Russia, and Chinese President Xi Jinping rules in Beijing, the relationship is unlikely to experience serious troubles. However, in the long run, Russia needs to balance its relationship with its giant and fast-growing neighbour, so as to protect its own state sovereignty and territorial integrity in Siberia and the Far East.
An interview on our website is the personal opinion of the expert and may not reflect the institutional view of Ankara Center for Crisis and Policy Research (ANKASAM).
The original version of this interview was published on The Asia Today on 10.12.2021.
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