Russia and China, Putin and Xi:  “Best and closest friends”

xi jinping vladimir putin

Trump’s statement on May 2nd  that  trade wars “were good and easy to win.”  reflected yet another dimension of what he does not know or understand – the nature and history of trade wars.     The history of trade wars teaches us that no one wins these wars, save perhaps for those who are not involved in them /  For example, a winner in the Smoot-Hawley tariff war was The Soviet Union.  As countries like Italy began to abandon American imports, they turned to the Soviets to do trade, forging strong trade links that exist today.  Whereas one sees no European or American products on the shelves of Russian supermarkets, save for the occasional bottle of French wine, one does see many typical Italian products.

Thus, as U.S. tariffs begin to bite into the Chinese economy, one can expect that China will ever increasing turn to its friend and neighbor, The Russian Federation.  The fact of the matter is that the economic and political bonds between the two countries have been evolving for at least a decade now.Russia and China are increasingly strengthening ties across virtually every dimension of their relationship.  Yet, neither Trump nor American lawmakers seem to understand the full importance of these ties.  The prevailing outlook is that the Chinese Russian relationship is and will remain essentially distrustful, and so that each country will never fully commit to an alliance with the other.   Leon Aron, of the American Enterprise Institute(“Are Russia and China Really Forming an Alliance?”) speaks of the many barriers including historic mistrust, as reasons the two great nations will never form an alliance.

Yet American conventional wisdom is dead wrong.  As Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi put it in a press conference in March, Beijing’s relations with Moscow are increasingly “steady and mature.” The closeness between these two nations and their leaders is reflected in  many ways.  The first is the affection with which the Chinese and Russian people regard one another.  As my friends and neighbors return from vacations and business visits to China, they speak not only of the warm welcome the Chinese people extend to them, but of the fact that the Chinese people they encounter  “adore” Putin.  Little wonder.  President of China Xi Jinping awarded the Order of Friendship of the People’s Republic of China to Vladimir Putin. The President of Russia is the first foreign leader to be awarded this high national order of China.  In his speech Xi said “President Putin, the leader of a major power with global influence, is the founder of current Chinese-Russian relations and always promotes their development at a high level. Since 2000, President Putin has made 19 trips to China, including on official visits and to attend international events. He has visited China more often than any other global leader, and he is best known and respected in China. President Putin is also my best and closest friend.”June 8, 2018

Putin responded:  “We are proud of our common achievements in politics, the economy, science, and culture. We appreciate the high level of cooperation achieved in the international arena. And we are fully confident of the certain success of all our undertakings.”

Beyond the affection for one another expressed by the two leaders and passed on to the people of their respective nations, deep economic ties have developed between the two countries.  China has been Russia’s leading trade partner for almost ten years now. There as been bilateral cooperation in the energy field reflected in the implementation of the China-Russia east route gas pipeline, the Yamal liquefied natural gas plant project, and the joint construction of the Amur gas processing plant.  The two nations are cooperating in Russia’s Far East to develop agriculture (I mentioned soybean farming in my article yesterday:  The Great Soybean War), animal farming, wood processing.  They continue to work in close cooperation in the areas of scientific and technological innovations.  Chinese tourists flood into Russia, and Russians in turn, visit China easily and often.  On a more subjective level, as I walk through the tunnels to and from Moscow Metros, I see machines filled with Chinese drinks, clothing made in China on sale in kiosks, Chinese products from jewelry to handbags in the small underground shop windows.

Beyond their strong economic ties, lie deep political ties as well. Moscow and Beijing work together on areas of mutual interest, from North Korea to the Iran nuclear deal, and of course, both nations have actively supported Maduro in Venezuela.  Beyond their cooperation with one another as regards international issues, the their governments interact with one another at nearly every level.  They work closely in such areas as transportation, investment, as well as one the development of sensitive technologies.

While America, under the leadership of Donald Trump, continues to stand alone in the world, viewing each and every other nation as a customer from whom the greatest profit is to be made, Russia and China have forged a deep and broad based an alliance which not only benefits both, but which presents a unified front to American political and economic ambitions in the world.

Thus, the question is not whether China and Russia are becoming allies and partners, but rather how deep and broad their partnership will become and the tipping point at which it will completely subsume American political and economic hegemony.

Mary Metzger is a 74 year old semi retired teacher. She did her undergraduate work at S.U.N.Y. Old Westbury and her graduate work In Dialectics under Bertell Ollman at New York University. She has taught numerous subjects, from Public Sector Labor Relations to Philosophy of Science, to many different levels of students from the very young to Ph.D. candidates, in many different institutions and countries from Afghanistan to Russia. She has been living in Russia for the past 12 years where she focuses on research in the Philosophy of Science and History of the Dialectic, and writes primarily for Countercurrents. She is the mother of three, the grandmother of five, and the great grandmother of two.


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