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Russia China Alliance and its impact on Geopolitics – Impact on India’s foreign relations

Russia China Alliance and its impact on Geopolitics – Impact on India’s foreign relations

Relevance:

  • GS 2 || International Relations || India & its Neighbor || China

Why in news?

Russia-China ties will play a significant role in shaping the evolution of the globe’s power balance in a fast changing world where new powers and alliances are forming.

Background:

  • On a number of global issues, Russia and China are becoming increasingly aligned. On many matters, Moscow and Beijing openly coordinate stances, particularly in the UN Security Council.
  • They also participate in multilateral fora such as the RIC, SCO, and BRICS, seeing such participation as a method to develop a multipolar world in which they are essential actors as well as a platform to present an alternative perspective to the Western-dominated global discourse.

Russia China Alliance:

  • China-Russia commerce has more than doubled to $108 billion since the Western sanctions were imposed.
  • The central bank of Russia has boosted its Chinese currency reserves from less than 1% to over 13%.
  • China has overtaken Germany as the world’s leading provider of industrial machinery and technology.
  • Russia has a nominal trade surplus right now, but China has a distinct advantage in the future.
  • The majority of its exports to Russia are now higher-tech, with the proportion of labor-intensive commodities declining.
  • Russian exports have remained concentrated on raw materials, particularly oil and gas.
  • China’s main energy objectives are served by investment relationships like the Power of Siberia (a $400 billion arrangement over 30 years to transport gas to China from Russia’s Far East via a 1,800-mile pipeline).

Russia-China cooperation:

The three pillars on which the Sino-Russian partnership currently rests are a peaceful boundary, expanding trade and a shared distrust of American intentions.

  • Western sanctions:Russians have been pushed closer to China as a result of Western sanctions. Falling oil prices and worries of fresh restrictions on Russian gas supply (Nord Stream 2) are destroying Russia’s primary exports to Europe, forcing them to rely even more heavily on China.
  • China-Russia trade:After the western sanctions, China-Russia trade has more than doubled to $108 billion, Russia’s central bank has increased its Chinese currency reserves from less than one per cent to over 13%, and China has surpassed Germany as the principal supplier of industrial plant and technology.
    • These economic positives appear to enhance what is seen in Washington and European capitals, as a growing strategic convergence.
    • Coordinated action in multilateral forums, increasingly sophisticated joint military exercises, and including activities with third countries such as Iran, reinforce western beliefs about it morphing into an alliance.
  • Reduce Russian influence: The growing power-gap is threatening to further reduce Russian influence in their ‘near-abroad’ and to confine Russia to the periphery of global power.
    • Russia still regards itself as a world power and hopes to be at the centre of a Eurasian arrangement that stretches from the Pacific to the Atlantic.
    • It considers U.S.-led hegemony as the primary threat to this vision, and this leads them on to make common cause with China. That does not automatically translate into a formal alliance, nor does it make their concerns about China disappear.

Irritating Factors in Russian-Chinese Relations

  • China’s territorial ambitions:
    • The fact that their border is tranquil. Fears of Chinese revanchism have been expressed as a result of Mr. Xi’s discourse of “rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” Former Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying, who is regarded as an authoritative voice of influence in China, admitted in an essay released in 2016 that China’s ascent has caused some Russians to be uncomfortable.
    • Despite the formal conclusion of the border dispute, some Chinese continue to harbor historical grievances and make critical references to the almost 600,000 square miles of Chinese territory that Tsarist Russia purportedly acquired in the late 19th century, according to Fu Ying.
    • When you add in Russian concerns about Chinese migration in the Russian Far East, it’s not hard to conclude that authorities in Moscow are worried about China becoming a threat to Russia’s territorial integrity.
  • Unfavorable business:
    • In terms of the economic pillar, while Russia currently has a nominal trade surplus, China has a distinct advantage going forward when it comes to value-added trade. The majority of its exports to Russia are now higher-tech, with the proportion of labor-intensive commodities declining.
    • Russian exports, on the other hand, have remained focused on basic materials, particularly oil and gas. Despite Chinese assurances, the investment relationship remains tepid, except where it benefits China’s key energy interests, such as the $400 billion, 30-year arrangement to provide gas to China via the 1,800-mile Power of Siberia pipeline. Russia is apprehensive of allowing China to play a dominant position in the oil and gas industries.
    • Russia presumably believes it can control China through its energy dependency, which the Chinese will not accept; and China believes it can integrate Russia into its economy by re-directing Russian oil and gas eastwards, but Russia is unlikely to give up its economic independence or sovereignty while it requires financing.
  • A dislike for the United States:
    • In terms of their common distaste of Washington, both still aspire to mend fences, and as a result, neither fully trusts the other when it comes to the strategic triangle’s third leg.
    • If they share a current concern about American aspirations for “regime change,” it has driven them to keep an eye on each other, but that does not guarantee a long-term understanding.
    • The transfer of the S-400 missile system to China is hailed as an indication of the emerging strategic partnership; yet, isn’t it also likely that this sale could be one of Russia’s final big military equipment sales to China before it becomes self-sufficient in defense?

As a result, the new reality of Sino-Russian relations is one in which significant bilateral collaboration is coupled by growing asymmetry and China’s pre-eminence, particularly in Russian “backyards” such as Central Asia and the Arctic areas. Moscow is in grave danger of becoming the ‘junior partner’ for the foreseeable future.

What should India’s response be?

  • Trustworthy defense supplier:India’s ties with Russia will be re-evaluated. His argument is that the Soviet Union of old, which was a politically stable, trustworthy defense supplier with shared concerns about the Dragon, has long been replaced by a politically agnostic, commercially minded Russia that no longer shares our concerns about China.
  • Relations with Russia: This would be true if China were the driving force behind our relations with Russia, but that is not the case. Even in the 1960s and 1970s, it was never the case.
  • Strategic cooperation with Russia:For India, a strategic cooperation with Russia based on the absence of fundamental conflicts of interest and a shared sense that some form of multipolarity is preferable to any sort of Sino-American condominium is crucial, and both sides should pay more attention to this relationship.
  • “The garden of friendship, like other gardens, must be regularly tended,” Prime Minister Indira Gandhi said in Moscow on September 20, 1982.

Conclusion:

Despite the fact that China and India’s relations have gone through ups and downs owing to border tensions, Russia remains hopeful that Beijing and New Delhi would avoid larger issues,” she said. “Russia has played an active role in the conflict between China and India.” To put it another way, Russia has maintained tight connections with India, which has served as a counterbalance to the so-called Quad group of the United States, Japan, India, and Australia.”

Mains oriented question:

India is concerned about the developing friendship between Russia and China. Discuss the relationship’s strategic potential and make recommendations for India’s future. (250 words)