• Wed
  • Dec 24, 2014
  • Updated: 6:43am

Sino-Russian alliance not on the cards, says German envoy Michael Clauss

German envoy says there are still too many differences for nations to gang up on West

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 June, 2014, 11:05pm
UPDATED : Friday, 27 June, 2014, 9:37am

China and Russia are unlikely to form an alliance against the West despite presenting a united front on several conflicts, the German ambassador to China, Michael Clauss, says.

Clauss told the South China Morning Post that while there was common ground, it would be an exaggeration to claim they were forming a bloc, as they still "have diverging views on many other issues", including the Ukraine crisis.

At a security summit in Shanghai last month, President Xi Jinping and Russia's Vladimir Putin vowed to oppose interference in the domestic affairs of other countries and opposed unilateral sanctions - a move widely seen as targeting the United States.

Beijing views Washington's security support to Japan and the Philippines, which are involved in bitter territorial disputes with China in the South and East China Seas, as trespassing on its national interest.

Bolstering their ties, Russia and China recently held joint naval exercises around the sensitive East China Sea.

But Clauss pointed out that China had not always sided with Russia. While it refrained from criticising Moscow's handling of the crisis in Ukraine, it had abstained - rather than vetoing - the UN Security Council resolution to denounce Russia over the annexation of Crimea.

"China has not supported Russia's actions in Ukraine. That has become very clear in the UN Security Council," he said.

"China did not seem to be happy about Russia unilaterally breaking international law, casting aside the principle of territorial sovereignty and non-interference by occupying a part of a sovereign country."

As for the South China Sea dispute, Clauss said China was being more assertive. If it became "over-assertive", Clauss said smaller countries would be tempted to form alliances against China.

"China should not allow any doubt to arise regarding its peaceful rise," he said.

Clauss also discounted the significance of a huge Sino-Russian natural gas deal - a move seen by observers as bringing ties, and resources, closer as Moscow faces mounting pressure from international sanctions over its annexation of Crimea.

The US$400 billion deal will see Russia supplying 38 billion cubic metres of natural gas a year to China. Negotiations had been stalled for more than a decade because of pricing differences, but it was finalised last month when Putin visited Shanghai.

"My impression is that many people in Russia had hoped the Chinese would be more forthcoming in the negotiations," Clauss said. "In the end, Russia had to make many concessions in order to reach an agreement on the price.

"I would not see China's signature as a concession to Russia. China was in a very strong negotiating position."


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This article is now closed to comments

Daniel Lee
German ambassador Michael Clauss is probably right when he says China and Russia are unlikely to form an alliance against the West. But they do need to stand together and help each other against the bullying from the West and Japan.
A Matsui
It's a good thing that China and Russia are getting closer.
IMO, Sino-Russian alliance is a dynamic situation that hinges on the actions of US, Japan and other smaller countries.
China is playing both cards: joining the upcoming naval exercise in Hawaii with US and at the same time conducting military exercises with Russia.
Whether it will develop into a "East versus West" scenario (although highly unlikely at this moment) remains to be seen.
China is doing what is in her best interests... Alliances are all relationships of convenience, like a house of cards, they have no substance or tangible value...
The US/NATO long-term strategy is to eventually do a deal with Russia and separate her from China.
Once China is totally without allies, China will be attacked.
The West/US/Japan will not allow China to become the dominant economic, military world power.
The future alliances he refers to have already been formed, as evidenced by China's diplomatic isolation at the recent Shangri-la Dialogue meeting on regional security.
FYI, Shangri-la Dialogue is organized by IISS, a pro west British research institute with strong ties to former British and US government officials
So what do you expect from a biased "mouth piece" of the west?
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Very correct assessment. This view seems highly consistent with the opinion shared/revealed in the memoir written by the former Chinese foreign minister Li zhao xing.
Alliances REDUCE political and diplomatic flexibility, China was smart enough to understand this long ago and has never entered into any alliance; the 'all-weather relationship' with Pakistan and to a lesser extent N.Korea, aren't alliances......


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