China, Russia and Europe: When You Have a Friend in Need, You Have a Friend Indeed


2015-01-02 Lest one is delusional about the leadership of the PRC, one can look at its latest move to bolster Putin against pressures from the West, pressures which originated from the Russian seizure of Ukraine.

China and Russia have a long and complicated relationship of allies, competitors, rivals and friends.

What they have in common is a long-standing relationship with the West which is highly interactive and competitive.

The Chinese and Russian civilizations are significantly nationalistic and approach globalization from that standpoint.

.  China and Russia have a long and complicated relationship of allies, competitors, rivals and friends.
. China and Russia have a long and complicated relationship of allies, competitors, rivals and friends.

In a piece which appeared at the end of the year (December 22, 2014) by Andrew Rettman in the EU Observer, the author looks at the Chinese approach to Russia and its position towards the European Union on Russian matters.

China has joined India in helping the Russian economy, but closer to home Belarus and Kazakhstan are hedging their bets on future relations.

Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said in China Daily, a state mouthpiece, on Monday (22 December): “Russia has the capability and the wisdom to overcome the existing hardship in the economic situation.

If the Russian side needs, we will provide necessary assistance within our capacity”.

China Daily noted that Russia has “hundreds of billions of [US] dollars” in its foreign reserve fund and is far from collapse.

It added that China is ready to offer loans and investments in infrastructure projects, with a new Russia-China gas pipeline, a deep-water port in Crimea, and railway schemes in Russia’s Far East under discussion.

The Chinese statement comes after India, earlier this month, bought 12 nuclear reactors from Russian firm Rosatom and launched joint production of military helicopters.

Going further back, China and India, as well as Brazil and South Africa, showed solidarity by abstaining in a UN vote on the non-recognition of Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

The actions of the non-aligned powers are a diplomatic defeat for the EU and US, which imposed economic sanctions on Russia over its war on Ukraine.

“There’s always diplomatic outreach to third countries … explaining what we’re doing, the logic. Part of the outreach is to push for a sustainable political solution to the crisis and, in this respect, to adopt measures that would support such a solution”, the EU foreign service’s spokeswoman, Maja Kocijancic, told EUobserver on Monday.

Rettman also provides insight with regard to one of the most important “forgotten players” in the Ukrainian crisis, namely Kazakhstan.

The financial crisis is having a strategic impact in Europe.

The ruble crash prompted Russia to cancel the South Stream gas pipeline project.

It also poses questions on the viability of the Eurasian Union: Russia’s plan to launch, on 1 January, an EU-type bloc with future joint institutions including Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had already unnerved Belarus and Kazakhstan.

“The Ukraine conflict has broader implications in the region. Countries like Kazakhstan fear, that when the time is right, Russia might also undermine their territorial integrity. So, to be on the safe side, they are trying to build better relations with the West rather than letting themselves be swallowed [in the Eurasian project]”, an EU diplomat said…..

Kazakhstan’s Nursultan Nazarabyev, on the eve of a Eurasian Union summit in Moscow on Tuesday, also went to Kiev on Monday and signed an agreement on military-industrial co-operation. He spoke of an “organized civil war” in east Ukraine, alluding to Russian intervention, and of “violations of international law.”

And this piece in Forbes by Mark Adomanis published on December 23, 2014 adds the following to the story:

I’m amazed that a bunch of self-described realists like the Russian government would take Chinese proclamations about partnership at face value.

The Chinese government, of course, is completely and totally unsentimental in its approach to foreign trade negotiations, particularly when it comes to natural resources.

China cares little about any notions of anti-Western brotherhood.

It cares a lot more about securing access to oil, gas, and agricultural products at the lowest possible price.

The real question, then, isn’t “will China give Russia money” it is “what are the conditions that the Chinese government will attach to a potential bailout?”

Based on the way they negotiated over natural gas, one should expect an extremely tough approach.

The Chinese understand that the supply of international lenders is a limited one, and that with the IMF out of the running the Russians are essentially out of other options.

Any deal between the two sides would reflect this simple reality.

Do the costs of cutting a deal with the Chinese outweigh the benefits? It’s not clear, and it’s ultimately up to the Russians to decide.

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