The roots of the current historically positive relations between China and Russia are primarily positive rather than reactive nature. A healthy trade relationship, a generally similar outlook on global development, mutual security interests and the mutual desire to develop a wide range of economic and security partners throughout the shared Asian space and beyond, naturally draws the two neighbouring superpowers together.
While reactive elements do exist in respect on the 21st century Sino-Russian partnership, these elements only add to a relationship that in any case would be both strong and necessary. Indeed, throughout their long history of living side-by-side, China and Russia have had remarkably few disputes. In this sense the Sino-Soviet split which lasted between 1961 and 1989 was an aberration, rather than a dispute which typified bilateral relations. Today’s healthy relationship is therefore the inevitable outgrowth of generally positive relations between neighbours.
Where the US used the ideological differences between a post-Stalin USSR and Maoist China in order to foment suspicion, today, Washington finds itself unable to do anything to diminish the important Sino-Russian friendship. On the contrary, the more the US antagonises Russia with anti-diplomatic hysteria, sanctions and provocations and the more the US antagonises China with trade wars, aggression in the South China Sea and a provocative relationship with India, the more China and Russia are drawn together.
This reality was made abundantly clear when the Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe met his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoigu in Moscow. Wei stated that the high level meetings of the two defence ministers came about because of the following,
“The Chinese side came to let the Americans know about the close ties between the Russian and Chinese armed forces”.
One of the unintended consequences of US sanctions against Russia and US tariffs on Chinese goods has been to increase an already deeply intense trading relationship between Russia and China. China has the largest domestic market in the world which is automatically attractive to Russian producers, while Russian consumers have benefited greatly from access to Chinese retailers and wholesalers. Chinese entrepreneur Jack Ma’s AliExpress is consistently the number one online seller in the Russian Federation in a clear sign of mutual consumer confidence of Russians in Chinese goods.
Adding to the high levels of cooperation between the two countries, it has recently been announced that Russia’s Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS) and the Chinese BeiDou system will soon be merged to create a global rival to the US GPS system.
Furthermore, as reported by RT, “Trade turnover between Russia and China has increased by 20.8 percent year-on-year, reaching $84.07 billion in 2017. The two major partners have recently set a goal to boost trade to $80 billion by 2018 and $200 billion by 2020. Chinese exports to Russia grew by 14.8 percent, to $42.88 billion; according to data from China’s General Administration of Customs. Chinese imports of Russian goods increased by almost 28 percent, to more than $40 billion. In December alone, trade turnover between the two nations stood at $8.13 billion”.
China and Russia look to increase trade figures even more in the second quarter of 2018. The more the US attempts to provoke both countries, the more two of the three superpowers will simply unify ever more intensely against common western threats.