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Politics & Law

RAND: “Russia can be contained, but China cannot.” Really?


Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow on April 5 (Photo from CNN)

A recent research conducted by RAND Army Research Division says that “Russia is not a peer or near-peer competitor but rather a well-armed rogue state that seeks to subvert an international order it can never hope to dominate.

In contrast, China is a peer competitor that wants to shape an international order that it can aspire to dominate …… “

“… In the military realm, Russia can be contained, but China cannot … it is geoeconomics, rather than geopolitics, in which the contest for world leadership will play out … Militarily, China can be contained for a while longer; economically, it has already broken free of regional constraints …”

Really?

The latest news has portrayed a very different picture. On March 24, “Russian planes carrying approximately 100 military personnel and about 35 tons of their equipment arrived in Caracas, Venezuela …” On April 8, CNN reported that “Russian warships arrive in the Philippines amid rising South China Sea tensions …” Do not forget China has assisted Venezuela to deal with the blackout and provided the badly needed medical aid on the one hand, and has made a number of trade deals with Manila since Rodrigo Duterte’s assumption of the presidency, on the other.

Right now, many analysts, like the RAND’s, are still struggling inside the US-Ru-China tripartite relationship. A similar one is Leon Aron, his essay published by the Foreign Affairs on April 4 says it is “premature” to say China and Russia will form an alliance due to the economic imbalance and geopolitical conflicts between these two powers.

When we widen the perspective, we can instead see that the Russia-China partnership is bringing up a new Eurasia, and also a new illiberal world order. “China and Russia are publicly heralding a new age of diplomacy between the two countries, at a time when both are being targeted by the United States with punitive measures. During a visit to Moscow on Thursday (April 5), Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi was quoted as saying relations between two countries were at ‘the best level in history’ …” CNN reported on April 6.

As highlighted by my 2018 June and September articles respectively, the rise of Eurasia under the joint leadership of Russia and China is the fundamental change of game. “A China-Russia Condominium over Eurasia”, this 2019Q1 paper by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) has somehow got it.

Perhaps, Russia alone can be contained, and China alone can be contained, too. But the rise of Eurasia cannot be contained.

The opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of China Daily Mail.

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About keith K C Hui

Keith K C Hui is a Chinese University of Hong Kong graduate major in Government and Public Administration and the author of "Helmsman Ruler: China's Pragmatic Version of Plato's Ideal Political Succession System In The Republic" (2013).

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