tirsdag 8. mars 2022

George Magnus: China has little to gain but much to lose as Russia’s ally

In just a few days, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has upended decades of international relations thinking and practices. Nothing will be the same as before. Even the 5,000-word statement on “international relations in a new era” issued by China and Russia just a month ago in Beijing – to make the world safe for autocracy – has been overtaken by events. In this ugly Russian quagmire, China’s role and behaviour merit close attention, not least as we wonder whether Ukraine today may be Taiwan tomorrow.

China and Russia have been getting closer for some time. The binds are visible in bilateral trade, which has more than doubled since 2015 to almost $150bn. China is Russia’s biggest trade partner. While Russia is almost a rounding error in China’s global exports, the two countries collaborate in military exercises, regional security arrangements and technology trade. These binds go some way to counter other differences and long-standing sources of mistrust, for example over Russian far east and central Asia. Yet, the biggest bind of all is geopolitics.