The Different Aspects Between China’s Meetings with the United States Last Week and Russia this Week

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Yana Leksyutina, Professor of St. Petersburg State University

This past two weeks Russian-Chinese and American-Chinese negotiations, held with a difference of several days, contrastingly demonstrated what interstate relations can be if they are built on an equal and respectful basis, or, on the contrary, if one of the parties conducts a dialogue from a position of strength and imposing its values and rules.

The March 18 meeting in Anchorage, unprecedented for the American-Chinese dialogue in terms of the intensity of passions and open irritation of its participants, dispelled any illusions, if any, about the possibility of a softening of the US course towards China under the new American administration. The reality is that in the next at least four years of Biden’s tenure in the United States, sanctions pressure on China, as well as on Russia, will grow. Hostile rhetoric on the part of American officials will intensify, attempts will be made to destabilize the political situation in China and Russia, as well as to form international coalitions aimed at curbing the growing influence of these two countries in the world.

It is noteworthy that although Beijing and Moscow are the main strategic rivals for Washington, they pose different kinds of threats. China is a dynamically gaining power great power, with each new world crisis only increasing its influence. Russia is viewed in the United States as an uncontrollable power, constantly destroying their foreign policy plans with regard to Syria, Iran, Venezuela or North Korea.

For all the differences between Russia and China – in their national power, political culture, ideology and values, international influence – they have one thing in common: unwillingness to play the role of Washington’s “younger brother”, to follow the imposed ideas of what their domestic and foreign policy should be. Both states categorically reject the ultimatum form of making claims, which excludes the possibility of seeking a compromise.

The unprecedented growth of pressure, including sanctions, on Russia and China from the United States, unprecedented for the 21st century, and continuing attempts to shake up the political situation in Russia and China (especially in Hong Kong) are forcing the leaders of both states to seek new forms of joint opposition to this pressure.

For China, the priority is to search for joint responses to US actions in line with the human rights agenda (on the Uyghur, Tibetan and Hong Kong issues), as well as to Washington’s instigation of “color revolutions”. The Celestial Empire hopes to spread in the international community its concept of state sovereignty in the field of human rights. This concept implies the right of each state to determine guidelines in the human rights field in accordance with its own realities and development needs.

Recently, in the course of Russian-Chinese consultations at the highest level, proposals have been made to intensify cooperation in countering information wars and cyber attacks by Washington. Protecting the information field from disinformation and ensuring the security of cyberspace are becoming important areas of close cooperation between Russia and China.

For all the importance of issues related to color revolutions, information wars and cyber attacks, the Russian leadership seems to be more concerned about the current and potential Western sanctions and their impact on the economy. Compared to China, Russia in this area has a lower margin of safety and stress resistance in front of restrictive measures. In an interview with the Chinese media on March 22, on the eve of his working visit to China, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov put forward such proposals as reducing the risks of sanctions by switching to settlements in national currencies, reducing the use of the US dollar, and refusing to use international payment systems controlled by the West, including by strengthening technological independence. Probably, The same applies to the situation in relations with the European Union. At the talks in China, the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry said that Moscow and Beijing “are not friends against anyone else.” He added that if Europe “broke off relations, simply destroying all the mechanisms that had been created for many years,” this objectively leads to the fact that relations with China are developing faster “than what is left of relations with European countries.”

This article has been translated from the Russian original, which appeared on the Izvestia News website here.

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