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China and Russia: A Strategic Alliance Shaped by Necessity and Opportunity

In the geopolitical chess game, the alliance between Russia and China has sparked concerns about Russia becoming a mere pawn in Beijing’s master plan. However, such predictions may not hold water, according to a seasoned analyst.

In the wake of Moscow’s actions in Ukraine, Russia’s dependence on China has significantly increased. In fact, Russia has emerged as the primary oil supplier to China, and Chinese firms are stepping up to equip Russian companies with tech that Western providers have withdrawn.

Observers are using terms like “yuanization” to describe the evolving dynamics of Russia’s economy. However, the fear that Moscow may become subservient to Beijing could be premature, and here’s why.

In reality, the ties between China and Russia, although complex, are anchored in mutual interests and strategic logic. Their confrontation with the West necessitates a foundation of cooperation rather than a domineering-subordinate dynamic. True, China could exert influence over Russia. However, there’s little reason for Beijing to upend the current equilibrium.

Contrary to popular belief, Russia’s trade relationship with China is not an anomaly. Trade volumes between the two countries are on par with China’s trade relationships with other nations. Since the onset of the Ukraine conflict, China’s share of Russian trade has surged to an estimated 22%. However, China’s stake in Australia’s trade, for example, is even higher at 26%. The notion of Russia being uniquely dependent on China is far from the truth, considering that China is the top trading partner for nearly 120 countries, many of which have a higher dependency on Beijing than Russia.

The alliance between Russia and China, despite shifts in the geopolitical landscape, has remained resilient and largely unchanged since Russia’s full-scale involvement in Ukraine. The key here is not subservience but a level playing field where both nations have the liberty to exercise their respective influence.

Even though the conflict in Ukraine has tilted the balance of power somewhat towards China, Moscow has not been left empty-handed. The Kremlin has gathered invaluable insights on dealing with sanctions and engaging with Western weaponry – knowledge that Beijing can’t glean from anywhere else.

In the broader context, China perceives a standoff with the West as inevitable. Thus, Russia’s experiences provide invaluable insights into weathering sanctions, navigating the financial system, and discovering effective protective measures. Additionally, Russia’s engagement in Ukraine provides practical lessons on combat strategies against Western weapons, invaluable information for China which has amassed a significant arsenal of Russian weaponry.

This military experience, however, isn’t an all-size-fits-all solution for China, particularly if it ever chose to escalate tensions with Taiwan. Yet, even a fraction of this knowledge could save China significant human and material costs. The existing military cooperation between China and Russia ensures that Beijing can tap into this resource without substantial costs.

In summary, the ongoing geopolitical developments have intensified the Russia-China alliance. But it’s crucial to note that this relationship is not a one-way street of domination but a dance of interdependence shaped by strategic interests and practical necessities.