China, Russia, and the United States—A Shifting Geopolitical Balance

Source: Getty
Op-Ed Public Service Europe
As China's power continues to grow, Russians need to rediscover themselves as a Euro-Pacific nation and strengthen ties to East Asia in order to avoid becoming Beijing's junior partner.
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Russia and China have been aligning ever more closely on a number of international issues, from Syria to Iran to North Korea. Some observers call this a "marriage of convenience". Others refer to it as "an awkward partnership", and some go as far as to suggest China's hegemony over Russia. What is true is that this is an intriguing relationship, which is evolving in a direction where the two countries have never been before. While any return to a Moscow-Beijing axis of the 1950s or the intense Sino-Soviet enmity of the 1960s may not be on the cards, the future of the relationship can definitely affect the geopolitical balance in Asia and beyond.

The chief new element in the relationship is easy to see. It is the historical role reversal. In 1979, China's gross domestic product was a mere 40 per cent of that of the Russian republic within the Soviet Union. Nowadays, China's GDP is between four and five times bigger than Russia's. At the heyday of the Sino-Soviet confrontation, the Soviet Union was a military superpower and the People's Liberation Army was essentially preparing for a "people's war". Today, China's defense budget is the world's second largest, way ahead of the 5th-placed Russia. Even more importantly, China's research and development budget dwarfs Russia's. Ultimately - Russians, who heretofore have never lived with a strong China, need to adjust to the new reality.

The remarkable thing is that, given the enormity of the change and its swiftness, Moscow and Beijing managed to end their 30-year-long Cold War in 1989 and moved toward a generally peaceful and collaborative arrangement. The thorny border issue, a fulcrum of tension in the past, has been resolved. And the border itself has been largely demilitarised. China has become Russia's biggest foreign trade partner, ahead of Germany. Russian arms sales over the past 20 years have helped the PLA to narrow the gap with the world's top militaries. With a number of smaller Central Asian states, China and Russia have formed the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, which helps mitigate their regional rivalry and functions as a platform for dialogue involving much of continental Asia. Finally, on the global arena, Moscow and Beijing speak the language of multilateralism and insist on the sanctity of national sovereignty - and the principle of non-interference in domestic affairs. ...
Full text of the article in Public Service Europe

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In Fact



of Brazilian protesters

learned about a massive rally via Facebook or Twitter.


million cases pending

in India’s judicial system.

1 in 3


now needs urgent assistance.


political parties

contested India’s last national elections.


of Egypt's labor force

works in the private sector.


years ago

Carnegie began an internship program. Notable alumni include Samantha Power.


of oil consumed in the United States

is for the transportation sector.


of Chechnya’s pre-1994 population

has fled to different parts of the world.


of oil consumed in China

was from foreign sources in 2012.


of Syria’s population

is expected to be displaced by the end of 2013.


million people killed

in Cold War conflicts.


of the U.S. economy

is consumed by healthcare.


billion in goods and services

traded between the United States and China in 2012.


billion in foreign investment and oil revenue

have been lost by Iran because of its nuclear program.


increase in China’s GDP per capita

between 1972 and today.


billion have been spent

to complete the Bushehr nuclear reactor in Iran.


of Iran’s electricity needs

is all the Bushehr nuclear reactor provides.


new airports

are set to be built in China by 2015.



were imprisoned in Turkey as of August 2012 according to the OSCE.


of the world's population

will reside in cities by 2050.


million Russian citizens

are considered “ethnic Muslims.”

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