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Russia-China tandem – the alliance and the geostrategic competition

Discussions on energy security and geostrategic new construction resulting from this remains a topical issue on the agenda of all stakeholders. Developments in the first decade of this century have called Eurasia the focal point of future geopolitical strategy.

Among major global players that dispute (more or less discrete) their capacity to bring this area in its own sphere of influence includes China, Russia and the United States. So in this context, analysts have repeatedly questioned the extent to which traditional and fraternal friendship means a Russian-Chinese strategic partnership to counter U.S. influence in the Far East and as far as a fierce struggle for recognition of regional leadership.
The first level of Russia-China relationship, economic, is the most frequently cited to authorities in Moscow and those in Beijing. Seen through the eyes of the Russian Far East bordering China looks like an eternal and historic threat. Silent siege over one million Chinese illegal immigrants that crossing the Russian border and work as laborers, farmers and traders, and Russian local authorities seem unable to stop the phenomenon. Their fears are hardly heard in Moscow. Or, if they hear, the Kremlin has a different view: China offers economic opportunities. And growth in the last decade also is a result of massive exports to China. And in those circumstances is not difficult to understand why old suspicions and disputes are tactfully suppressed. For its part, Beijing needs at least a provider of reliable and convenient fuel that would satisfy the request due to strong economic growth that China wants to become a superpower. Economic, military and even space. Recently the Russian press gave wide spaces of a document stipulating the cooperation between Russia and China by 2018. Which, of course, add the 40 agreements signed by Prime Minister Putin during visit to China this autumn. And that, even Vladimir Putin stated, “refers not only to provide fuel. Russian Prime Minister noted in this regard the signing of an agreement on Russia’s involvement in the construction of nuclear power plant in TianWan. Russia seeks to encourage their economy, seriously affected by the economic crisis and which President Dmitry Medvedev said he would decline by 7.5% in 2009 (well above initial estimates). So signing the agreement on supply of oil and gas to China, the second energy consumer in the world, is certainly an oxygen baloon for Russian economy. Among the economic arrangements between the two countries are loans of 500 million dollars from Chinese banks for financial institutions in Russia. Trade between China and Russia have increased from 10 billion dollars per year to over 50 billion in the past six years, but the target is 60-80 billion dollars by the end of 2010. Even so, oil and gas represent more than half of Russian exports to China. As for that in 2009, the Kremlin has agreed to fund the 25 billion to build a pipeline from Siberia to China, in exchange of promises by officials in Beijing that will buy oil from the Russians for next 20 years.
On the second level of the Russian-Chinese relations, politics, opinions differ. From the overall vision to differences in detail. It speaks primarily of a strategic partnership aimed at achieving the transition to American supremacy in a world with multiple global and regional power centers. The same partnership would counter U.S. influence in the Asian region. It deserve to be remembered that President Hu Jin Tao said during the latest visit to Moscow that his country is ready to deepen relations with Russia in order to accelerate the formation of a multipolar world order. But many experts believe that Russia’s interests with China are commercial rather than political. On the other hand, some fear that Moscow, intended or not, by massive supplies of fuel and military equipment will contribute to an arms race in East Asia – namely China, while Japan, South Korea and Taiwan will be supported the United States. There were voices who argued that, politically and economically, Russia seems to be trying to emulate the Chinese model. Especially since China’s rapid recovery in the current economic conditions showed that the model is one that really works. Also, some Western analysts have noted that a part of the Putin Doctrine has been inspired by the doctrine of the Communist Party of China, in support of the theory are raised likewise good relationship of United Russia with the Chinese Communist Party, to the detriment of the Russian namesake led by Gennadii Zyuganov. The argument is wrong: the differences arise even in the way ordinary Chinese and Russians perceive the two political parties. While the Chinese Communist Party is saw as leader that guard the interests of the country, the Russians see the Party of Prime Minister Putin as a strange mix of elite of transition and as an umbrella for cloudy weather for enriched of the same period. Of course, there are other major differences: the reforms which had led to the passage of the Chinese economy to a market economy have been more consistent and more thoughtful than that of Yeltsin’s Russia. And the Chinese still have a good control especially on areas considered strategic. In Russia, President-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin tests the recovery of the strategic review focused mainly on energy resources and were rather facade behind which the oligarchs “quiet” have replaced those become undesirable. Also according to the indices in the world, at Chapter corruption Russia stays far worse than China. And the investment climate in Russia is less hospitable, and ownership is far from being considered a basic principle. Russia has been surpassed by China and the infrastructure chapter. And the list can continue with the demographic crisis and the health system problems, which will worsen amid economic backdrop. However, Russia remains more open than China, with independent opposition parties (although most co-opted or associated power of government – quickly end of the “rebellion” of the State Duma after regional elections showed clearly that) and more freedom expression.
The most obvious difference involves the Internet network, which is censored in China, but not in Russia where he became an important tool of information and communication. And propaganda, or anti-propaganda, of course.
But soundness of Russia-China strategic partnership raises and many questions. The fact that Moscow has demanded firm guarantees for the export of fuel for a long time is not accidental. Russia’s economy declined as a result of economic crisis, but particularly due to aggravating factors: exposure to lower world oil prices and reduced demand for fuel – that is the major pillars on which is based the whole economy. The relaunch will be a slow process and will be backed by a massive refurbishment which require huge capital investment. Meanwhile, Chinese economic growth exceeded 8% at the end of September, this being the objective that Beijing set for the full year 2009. According to AFP experts, this level of 8% is considered necessary to create enough jobs to be avoided social unrest. Also, according to latest IMF estimates, China’s economy will grow by 8.5% this year and 9% in 2010. China’s Recovery Plan for 2009-2010 provides for investment of 4,000 billion yuan (400 billion), hoping to offset falling exports by domestic consumption following the global crisis. By comparison, until will have a diversified and competitive economy, and economic growth will resume properly, Russia has much to do internally.
Meanwhile, China can afford to build strategies that would not depend major on  Russian fuel imports. And a quick look on existing moves show that Russia’s fears are well founded. Thus, only this year China bought 11 percent of the company KazMunaiGaz Exploration Production, a subsidiary of KazMunaiGaz group, held by Kazakhstan, against payment of 949 million dollars, thus increasing its energy influence in Central Asia. “The acquisition is added to the wave of Chinese investment abroad, in oil, mining and other natural resources. Moreover, Chinese companies have been extremely active in Kazakhstan, a country very large, but sparsely populated, on the border to the northwest”, tells the Associated Press. In turn, the Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez has announced a partnership with China worth $ 16 billion and referring to the Orinoco basin, rich in oil resources. Chavez didn’t give details of the document, but said the amount of investment of Chinese party: over $ 16 billion in the next three years. Chinese companies involved are legally associated with the state company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), to produce 450,000 barrels per day. (Evidence that Russia carefully seeks strategic partner’s moves, a week later, Venezuela announced a similar agreement with a Russian consortium. Understanding will bring a group of five Russian companies in Venezuela with investments of 20 billion U.S. dollars over the next three years and give them the right to probe into the Orinoco). Moreover, they become extremely consistent China’s steps to increase participation in oil fields in Africa. “Chinese oil companies are very interested in obtaining shares in major oil fields are close to the production stage or stages of development. The Chinese government likes to ensure its long term resources” says Thomas Grieder, analyst at  London IHS Global Insight. China’s economy will require more than 11 million barrels of oil per day over 5 years, with 38 percent more than last year, according to analysts. Chinese companies in Africa are diversifying from construction projects to facilitate access to resources to strategies that include Western companies and local banks. In this process, China competes with some of the biggest companies in the United States and Europe, seeking their own resources in the region, informs Bloomberg. How practicing non-aggressive diplomatic war, discreet but highly effective China pursues its interests globally worth a separate discussion. With U.S. and European Union, but also with Russian partner, China to compete in Eastern European countries (remember here the great loan that China is willing to grant to the Republic of Moldova, but also non-refundable loan of half a million euros for Romania recently granted), a sign that the Asian giant wishes, if not to world leadership, at least one sphere of influence expanded. In these circumstances, although Russian business has shown pleased profits coming from the export of military technology (China is the second largest sales market after India), China’s ambitions equipped with powerful weapons bring questions and concerns from experts and certainly give headaches for many strategists at Moscow. Another problem that giving migraine Russia is dramatical modification of the ethnic composition in Siberia and the Far East because of the impossibility stop illegal immigration from China. More, feeble attention paid to this phenomenon by the Chinese authorities seems to suggest that they didn’t really intend to solve the problem. Moscow knows very well how cost its ethnic conflicts in the immediate vicinity and doesn’t want other such new experiences at thousands of miles away. If on this mosaic adds resumption warnings by Russian local authorities at Khabarovsk about the violation by China of environmental standards and pollution Russian territory, we see that there are grounds for possible disputes. But that remains only a background noise low as long as economic interests prevail. Mentioned in an previous material that the way the Russian Federation will relate to EU  and America essentially depends on the strategy and influence which it will acquire under the Shanghai Organization, and particularly in the area Asian. But this is as true for China. It’s hard to give a clear answer to what extent Russia will know to effectively manage the relationship of alliance and competition with Asian strategic partner. About the ambitions of China, with every day things become more clear. Next year, China is about to be visited by more than 70 million visitors to Expo 2010 – Shanghai. How did the normal already after organizing the Olympic Games, China will present on this occasion at an impressive level. Important, even if only in symbolic plan, the building that will host the Chinese participants will suggest “Oriental Crown” and has been specially designed for this event.

Publicat în : English  de la numărul 68
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