Michael Clarke and Anthony Ricketts | Should America Fear the China-Russia Relationship?

Michael Clarke and Anthony Ricketts, The National Interest:

China and Russia have increased their security, economic and diplomatic relationship, complicating an already fragile Asia-Pacific region. Many analysts have viewed this enhanced collaboration as the beginning of a partnership set on destabilizing the Western-led order and diminishing the capacity for the United States to influence strategic outcomes in the region. But this line of reasoning affords primacy to the material components of Beijing and Moscow’s newfound affection for each other, neglecting the salience of the historical and normative elements that inform their relationship.

In fact, the perceived belligerency of this China–Russia nexus is driven by a shared historical and ideological connection, which has manifested in both states adopting an authoritarian style government. Some analysts perceive this rigid style of governing as a representation of their mutual mistrust of the West, and a shared desire to rewrite the rules that shape the global order.

The willingness of Russia and China to deploy, or threaten the use of, military force to further their national interest, and challenge existing regional security orders, appears to confirm such pessimistic assessments. Whether it is Russia in Ukraine, or China in the South China Sea, both have demonstrated a militaristic disposition to resolving their historical territorial grievances. According to one such view, “Russia and China are now competing to arm anti-democratic and anti-U.S. regimes in Latin America, and may be cooperating to help Nicaragua build a trans-ocean canal, which may yield port access for Russian and Chinese warships. Both countries actively support U.S. enemies in Syria and Iran.”


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