"Brothers Enemy" .. Decades of competition and rapprochement between Russia and China

“Brothers Enemy” .. Decades of competition and rapprochement between Russia and China

Decades of enmity and rapprochement

  • The first border dispute between the two countries occurred in 1858, when Russia annexed the Amur River.
  • In the early 1960s, the Soviet Union decided to cut aid to China during their border dispute.
  • The differences did not end until 1991, with an agreement on the demarcation of the border.
  • This border, with a length of 4,300 km, is still a source of concern for the two nuclear powers.
  • In the early 1990s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union and America’s monopoly on the international decision, the Russians realized that abandoning China was a historical mistake.
  • At the beginning of this century, relations between the two sides witnessed a growing development on the economic and developmental level in the first place, and on the military and political levels to a lesser extent.
  • US sanctions have prompted the two countries to strengthen their relations.
  • The two sides established bilateral and regional frameworks, including the Shanghai Organization, which also included Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

  • Since 2012, Moscow and Beijing have been holding military exercises regularly.
  • In 2014, the two sides strengthened their relations with the project "Siberian Power Line" to export Russian gas to China.
  • China refrained from recognizing Russia-backed declarations of independence in 2008 for two regions of Georgia.
  • China also abstained from a vote in the UN Security Council in 2014, on a resolution condemning Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
  • In 2022, Beijing abstained from voting on two Security Council and United Nations resolutions condemning the Russian military operation in Ukraine.
  • In the same year, it was agreed to settle gas contracts with Moscow in rubles and yuan, and not in Western currencies.
  • The Chinese president made his first foreign visit to Tajikistan in 2022, and sent indirect messages to Russia.

Areas of influence and contention

  • China’s expansion in Central Asia worries Moscow as it is a traditional Russian sphere of influence.
  • In the Far East, Moscow is suspiciously observing the nature of China’s armaments.
  • Beijing’s ambitions in the Arctic are another source of concern in Moscow.

Chinese advance worries Russia

The academic and political analyst, Arthur Lydekberg, said that "Russia’s preoccupation with the war in Ukraine, as well as tensions with the West and mutual sanctions between the two sides, contributed to a large Chinese advance towards Russian areas of influence in Central Asia.". He added:

  • "There were reciprocal roles between Russia and China in this region, as Moscow supports security and Beijing economically".
  • "China recently jumped towards the political and military side in the former Soviet republics, through military support, joint training and alignment with some governments, as happened in the Chinese President’s visit to Kazakhstan, and his pledge to preserve its independence after signs of a crisis with Russia, as a result of the country’s neutral position on the Ukraine war. As well as sanctions against Moscow".
  • Lydekberg explained that "It became clear that Russia lost control over its back gardens, as the language of dialogue was unable to contain differences and bullets became the closest language to resolving disputes, as an exchange of fire took place between border guards in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan following renewed disputes over the borders between the two Central Asian countries, as well as Azerbaijan’s attempt to pressure To achieve the largest gains in the disputed areas with Armenia, an ally of Russia".

  • On the growing relations between the two sides, Lydekberg said: "Beijing and Moscow see their partnership as key to confronting a US-dominated world, while sharing resources and technology.".
  • He continued: "Russia and China together pose a much greater challenge than Washington’s ability to confront, compared to confronting them separately, and therefore what unites them is the position of the two countries on American policy towards them.".
  • "The United States has put confronting China at the heart of its national security policy for years, and the Biden administration described the competition with China as the biggest geopolitical test in the current century, which requires deterrence plans by Beijing, and it will not find a better partner than Russia in light of the pressures imposed on it by the West."According to the political analyst.

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Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet Thursday in Uzbekistan, at a summit that looks like a front against the West, especially America, which is leading the two sanctions campaigns against Moscow and military support for Kiev, and angered Beijing with visits by US officials to Taiwan.

Relations between the two neighbors witnessed a history of ups and downs, leading to border clashes that pushed the two largest communist countries in the world to the brink of war in 1969.

Decades of enmity and rapprochement

  • The first border dispute between the two countries occurred in 1858, when Russia annexed the Amur River.
  • In the early 1960s, the Soviet Union decided to cut aid to China during their border dispute.
  • The differences did not end until 1991, with an agreement on the demarcation of the border.
  • This border, with a length of 4,300 km, is still a source of concern for the two nuclear powers.
  • In the early 1990s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union and America’s monopoly on the international decision, the Russians realized that abandoning China was a historical mistake.
  • At the beginning of this century, relations between the two sides witnessed a growing development on the economic and developmental level in the first place, and on the military and political levels to a lesser extent.
  • US sanctions have prompted the two countries to strengthen their relations.
  • The two sides established bilateral and regional frameworks, including the Shanghai Organization, which also included Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

  • Since 2012, Moscow and Beijing have been holding military exercises regularly.
  • In 2014, the two sides strengthened their relations with the “Siberian Power Line” project to export Russian gas to China.
  • China refrained from recognizing Russia-backed declarations of independence in 2008 for two regions of Georgia.
  • China also abstained from a vote in the UN Security Council in 2014, on a resolution condemning Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
  • In 2022, Beijing abstained from voting on two Security Council and United Nations resolutions condemning the Russian military operation in Ukraine.
  • In the same year, it was agreed to settle gas contracts with Moscow in rubles and yuan, and not in Western currencies.
  • The Chinese president made his first foreign visit to Tajikistan in 2022, and sent indirect messages to Russia.

Areas of influence and contention

  • China’s expansion in Central Asia worries Moscow as it is a traditional Russian sphere of influence.
  • In the Far East, Moscow is suspiciously observing the nature of China’s armaments.
  • Beijing’s ambitions in the Arctic are another source of concern in Moscow.

Chinese advance worries Russia

Academic and political analyst, Arthur Lydekberg, said that “Russia’s preoccupation with the war in Ukraine, as well as tensions with the West and mutual sanctions between the two sides, contributed to a large Chinese advance towards Russian areas of influence in Central Asia.” He added:

  • “There were reciprocal roles between Russia and China in this region. Moscow supports security and Beijing economically.”
  • “China recently jumped towards the political and military side in the former Soviet republics, through military support, joint training and alignment with some governments, as happened in the Chinese President’s visit to Kazakhstan, and his pledge to preserve its independence after signs of a crisis with Russia, as a result of the country’s neutral position on the war Ukraine, as well as sanctions against Moscow.
  • Lydekbrik explained that “it became clear that Russia lost control over its back gardens, as the language of dialogue was unable to contain differences, and bullets became the closest language to resolving disputes, as an exchange of fire took place between the border guards in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan after renewed disputes over the borders between the two Central Asian countries, As well as Azerbaijan’s attempt to pressure to achieve the largest gains in the disputed areas with Armenia, an ally of Russia.

  • On the growing relations between the two sides, Lydekberg said, “Both Beijing and Moscow view their partnership as a key to confronting a world dominated by the United States, while sharing resources and technology.”
  • And he added, “Russia and China together constitute a much greater challenge than Washington’s ability to confront, compared to confronting them separately, and therefore what unites them is the position of the two countries on US policy towards them.”
  • The United States has put confronting China at the heart of its national security policy for years, and the Biden administration described the competition with China as the biggest geopolitical test in the current century, which requires deterrence plans by Beijing, and it will not find a better partner than Russia in light of the pressures imposed on it by the West. According to the political analyst.


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