The Diaoyutai Conflict Affects the Strategic Triangle between US, Mainland China, and Russia
China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
June 15, 2016
Executive Summary: Sino-US differences remain. US-Russian grievances deepen. China and Russia are no longer enemies. This describes the new US, Mainland China, Russian strategic triangle. The US continues to rally the nations of the world against China and Russia. Beijing and Moscow are naturally going to band together. In a triangular relationship, any two sides of the triangle are necessarily greater than the third side. Sino-Russian cooperation is a nightmare for the United States. It will also shatter the existing international order.
Full Text Below:
Mainland Chinese and Russian missile destroyers have appeared simultaneously in Diaoyutai Island waters. The Abe Cabinet was taken aback. It concluded that Mainland China and Russia have joined hands to oppose Japan. It held an overnight emergency meeting and lodged a strong protest. But the US merely reiterated that "The US-Japan Security Treaty covers Diaoyutai Island waters". Beijing sternly refuted Japan. Russia denied that the two fleets "acted in unison”. Have Mainland China and Russia joined hands to oppose the US and Japan? More evidence is required. But the global strategic picture is rapidly coming into focus. Mainland China is attempting to ally itself with Russia in order to resist the US and Japan. A strategic triangle involving the US, Mainland China, and Russia is indeed taking shape.
During the Cold War the "strategic triangle" explained the triangular relationship between the US, Mainland China, and the Soviet Union. It remains applicable today. Since the end of the Cold War, all manner of strategic triangles have emerged from within the international community. But those involving the US continue to attract the most attention. In recent years, Russia has gradually restored its national power under the leadership of strongman Vladimir Putin. Events in Crimea and Ukraine have made the strategic triangle between the US, Mainland China, and Russia the most important one in today's world.
The strategic triangle between the US, Mainland China, and Russia, has never been an equal one. During the Cold War, the balance of power involved the US and Mainland China vs. the Soviet Union. After the Cold War, Washington attempted to contain not only Russia, but also Mainland China. Hence its "China Threat Theory". Obama's Asian-Pacific rebalancing is clearly aimed at Mainland China's increasing military might. In response to the Ukraine crisis, the US joined with the EU, both to contain Russia, and to resolve South China Sea disputes. The US pressured other nations to join its patrols. It constantly challenged Beijing's territorial sovereignty. The result is today's Sino-Russian anti-US posture. US Secretary of State John Kerry's visit to Moscow in late March, was intended to normalize US-Russian relations. The US is already feeling the pressure of the Sino-Russian strategic alliance.
Within the new US, Mainland China, and Russia strategic triangle, Beijing remains most concerned about Sino-US relations. Xi Jinping has long reiterated his desire for a new "no conflict, no confrontation, cooperation and win-win" big power relationship. Xi is aware of the ups and downs of Sino-US relations. He knows the two sides have differences despite cooperation, conflict despite dialogue. But he also sees potential for cooperation in many areas.
Mainland China-Russia relations are at a historic peak. They are currently limited to a strategic partnership. But they are gradually moving toward "equality and trust, tolerance and learning, cooperation and win-win". As the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, the Moscow 2015 "5.9" Beijing Red Square parade, the 70th anniversary War of Resistance "9.3" parade showed, Xi Jinping and Putin have established a strong personal friendship. The Mainland and Russia cooperate closely on international and regional security matters. They enjoy a relatively solid "quasi-allies" relationship. By contrast, the new big power relationship between the Mainland and the US remains a castle in the air.
US-Russian relations are comparatively simple, but also the most complex. After the Cold War, the United States took advantage of the disintegration of the Soviet Union to expand NATO eastward. It incited 'color revolutions". It provoked divisions in the South Caucasus. Its imposed sanctions against Ukraine, forcing Moscow to suffer from Western economic sanctions and a US missile defense system in Eastern Europe. This led Russia to bolster its Asian-Pacific strategy, and ally with Mainland China to oppose the United States and Japan.
The international situation is treacherous and changeable. The interests of the United States, Mainland China, and Russia are constantly in flux. Western economic sanctions have accelerated Sino-Russian energy cooperation and the sale of sophisticated military hardware. The two sides have signed or intend to sign economic and trade agreements amounting to three trillion USD. Bilateral trade volume is likely to exceed 200 billion within five years. Bilateral trade includes weapons such as the new S-400 air defense missile systems and Su-35 fighters. It includes energy deals, in the form of a natural gas pipeline. It includes war production, such as wide-body aircraft, helicopter gunships, and navigation systems. It includes joint military exercises, twice last year, once in the Mediterranean, and once in the Sea of Japan. These further enhance bilateral strategic cooperation.
Trust between Mainland China and Russia remains inadequate. Short-term historical grievances have not been forgotten. But realpolitik considerations have led to strategic military cooperation. Putin will visit Beijing again later this month. Mainland China's alliance with Russia is bound to continue. Russia does not want its economic development determined by Mainland China. Its arms sales to Vietnam and India are intended to balance the US-Mainland China-Russia trilateral relationship. By the same token, Beijing's economic assistance to Russia also has limits. In particular, it must consider the potential impact of Mainland China-EU relations on the Sino-Russian alliance. Sino-Russian relations also have their limitations.
Sino-US differences remain. US-Russian grievances deepen. China and Russia are no longer enemies. This describes the new US, Mainland China, Russian strategic triangle. The US continues to rally the nations of the world against China and Russia. Beijing and Moscow are naturally going to band together. In a triangular relationship, any two sides of the triangle are necessarily greater than the third side. Sino-Russian cooperation is a nightmare for the United States. It will also shatter the existing international order.
Kissinger warned Washington in the 1970s. He said that in the triangular relationship between the US, Mainland China, and Russia, relations between the US and China, and relations between the US and Russia, must be better than relations between China and Russia. But the current US, Mainland China, Russia strategic triangle is clearly inconsistent with Kissinger's expectations. The 2013 Joint Communique may not contain the words "based on the principles of non-alignment". But the term "non-group" implies an imminent bilateral alliance.
Sino-Russian relations have long involved a high degree of political friendship, a moderate degree of strategic cooperation, and a limited degree of economic cooperation. Even so, the Sino-Russian "quasi-alliance" is strong enough to threaten US global hegemony.
2016年06月15日 04:10 主筆室