• Thu
  • Oct 2, 2014
  • Updated: 7:58pm
CommentInsight & Opinion

Xi and Putin must focus on stability, not opposing West

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 May, 2014, 3:15am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 May, 2014, 2:24pm

China and Russia are moving closer. The co-operation and support vowed by presidents Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin during talks in Shanghai this week, strengthened by a landmark US$400 billion natural gas deal, were as much agreements to work together as to put on a united front against perceived Western aggression. Given Beijing's concerns over the US' rebalancing to Asia and Moscow's isolation by American and European sanctions over Ukraine, there is justification for believing national interests are being threatened. In joining forces, though, they have to focus on global peace and stability, not contribute to creating a new bipolar world.

Statements made after the leaders' summit gave every impression that Beijing and Moscow are reading from the same diplomatic page. They objected to sanctions, vowed to oppose interference in the domestic affairs of other countries and, in direct reference to Japan and Europe, pledged to counter attempts to "falsify the history" of the second world war. The meeting coincided with the launch of joint naval exercises in the East China Sea. Capping the talks was the deal for Russia to supply China with 38 billion cubic metres of gas a year, a pact that took 10 years to negotiate.

Sino-Russian relations are complex. Since the 1950s, there have been periods of moving closer and apart, ideology, territorial disputes and conflicting interests being at play. Their membership of the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation is largely about central Asian influence; there is leadership rivalry in the group of big developing nations, BRICS. Russia's arms deals with India and Vietnam have caused complications.

But for all the difficulties, the West has given China and Russia reason to more closely align their positions. Beijing is suspicious of US intentions with its moving of naval forces to the region. President Barack Obama's administration has unsubtly backed Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam and other claimants to contested islands and waters. American and European sanctions against Russia are similarly antagonistic.

China and Russia have much to gain from oil and gas deals and technological and industrial partnerships. But creating an anti-Western alliance will not benefit their cause. US and EU isolation of the nations will further global instability. Just as American and European leaders need to rethink their policies, Xi and Putin have to take careful diplomatic steps.


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This article is now closed to comments

A Kuro
Stability for Russia and China will come from close coordination and cooperation.
China is Illegally placing an oil rig with Vietnam's territorial water and Putin has not says a thing about it and you call that a stability?
when China was making enemy you created it's not ok, when she makes friends it's also not ok? since when it is ok for you to ok everything?
IMO, Xi's first choice to get closer relations is US and not Russia.
Unfortunately, Obama ditched Xi and tilted closer to Abe on the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands dispute (reluctantly on Obama's part since I don't think he likes Abe).
At the same time, Russia got dragged into the Ukraine crisis because the inept Yanukovych got booted out and Putin does not want to loose another "buffer zone".
The natural gas deal could just be the start of things and can be followed by closer military ties and other ventures.
As I see it, both China and Russia are forced into the current situation and they have no choice but to stay together for now. They are both playing defense instead of offense, although some of their actions can wrongly be viewed as offensive.
Also, I don't think it is a matter of opposing West, but promoting East governing the East without interference from the West as laid out by Xi at CICA.
Now the big question is: "who" is going to "blink" first to diffuse the situation, and I don't think it will be China.
And if nobody blinks, then the crisis continues.

How About
A good editorial on the situation except with the steer that when Russia and China aligns, the situation could become bipolar [or tripartite].
When they are driven closer in trade to uphold their respective self interests, would it necessarily mean they are declaring War with the West? Isn't that the ONE message we must learn from the Cold Wars, that in fact the Communists BLOC wasn't the villain the West made it out to be in fact it was a self-serving military tango, arms race between the West and the Communists? Sieve through the annals and one will find the 50-70s anti-RED sentiments in this part of Asia from the Indo-Chinas, Malayas to Indonesia were unfounded if anything as much reactionary to what the imperialists West [to replace the de-colonisations] was doing in those countries?
Let's not ever go back to Cold War v2.0, as much as the West wants to re-pivot [this word is egregiously ominous of war] or simply re-deploy their military assets to China and East Asia. This again, let it be known everywhere, will depend on the actions of deeds of the West to be inclusive and even handed to everyone, as it does on China alone, or on both China and Russia combined.
And, the Chinese and Russians are as deserving of world peace and better economic prosperity as everyone else on Earth.
Who is this MF snake Obama? I thought the slave rapist George Washington is still president?
M Miyagi
The US and her allies especially Japan are insidious, lawless, double standard countries engaged in exploiting the weaker countries, destabilising other countries, forever spreading conflicts and discords. Obviously Russia and China must protect their own security and interests.
this is the most crazy SCMP editorial i have seen. it is the US who is fermenting problems along the Russian border (Ukraine), along the Chinese coast and you are telling Russia/China not to meddle with "the west"?


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