Country Reports

Sino-Russian relations remain the bedrock of Moscow’s Asia policy, as reaffirmed by when the Russian ambassador to China recounted at the start of 2019 how relations had been growing closer. The perceived sharp downturn in Sino-US relations only adds to the Sino-Russian momentum. One prospect is to take advantage in 2019 of the 70th anniversary of the normalization in 1949 or of the 20th anniversary of the bilateral treaty of 2001 to produce a new document bringing ties closer to an alliance. Indeed, a review of evolving military planning in China indicates that it is ready to begin active use of its armed forces, raising new possibilities for Russia. Yet, an assessment of Chinese debates on foreign policy reveals some retrenchment back toward Deng’s modesty, which could benefit Russia by making China less confident and more eager to cooperate with Russia and forge a regional environment that opens space for a multidirectional Russian foreign policy in Asia. Also visible is alarm that the US retreat from Afghanistan and China’s intensifying BRI with Pakistan and in Central Asia will leave Russia and India the big losers in Central Asia. Such outright warnings about China are now in evidence. More common is renewed attention to the revived strategic triangle, as the US withdraws from the intermediate-range missile treaty with Russia, citing a Chinese missile build-up as a factor.

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