Russia's strategic value to China

By Wang Haiyun
0 CommentsPrint E-mail, June 15, 2011
Adjust font size:

Chinese President Hu Jintao kicked off an eight-day visit to Central Asia on Sunday. He is scheduled to visit Russia on Wednesday. One of the important topics of his visit to Russia is to review significant progress in bilateral relations since the establishment of a strategic cooperative partnership between the two countries 15 years ago. Thanks to the common strategic interests and healthy mutual understanding, Sino-Russian relations are at a historic high point.

A wide range of similar strategic interests

Strategic interests are the most important factors in determining international relations. The establishment and development of a strategic cooperative partnership between China and Russia is based on and supported by the common strategic interests of the two countries.

The most important geopolitical reality facing both Russia and China is that they are each other's largest neighbor. As we cannot choose our neighbors, it is in the strategic interests of both countries to develop a friendly, cooperative relationship.

The shared border requires both countries' diligent maintenance. Both countries are located in the Central Asia and Northeast Asia region. They have a wide range of common interests relating to security and development of their other neighbors. Both China and Russia would like to build the Central Asia region into a zone of neighborly friendship, strategic stability, and economic cooperation. The cooperation between the two countries is the fundamental basis for the existence and development of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Taking into account the United States' intention to "return to East Asia" and the establishment of an "Asian version of NATO," the significance of the strategic cooperation between China and Russia in Northeast Asia is even more far-reaching.

Over the next few decades, both countries will be in their critical period of rapid development. There is a pressing need for a peaceful and stable regional and international environment for both countries. And both countries have common interests on issues related to both international and regional peace and stability. China and Russia, as emerging powers, share common strategic aspirations as they establish a new international order.

China and Russia help one another via trade and other economic exchange. These economic ties require the two countries to cooperate with each other. Russia has abundant natural resources and cutting-edge military, aerospace, aviation, and materials technologies. China is a big and stable market for energy and resources. It has advanced light industry, electronics and communication technologies. Though many Russians pin their hope on Europe and the U.S. to help the country realize modernization, support from a friendly and booming neighbor will prove more valuable.

Both China and Russia have a long history and vast territory. The two world powers are at the same transformational stage as they shift from a planned economy to a market system. The problems facing the two countries share many similarities.

A wide range of similar strategic concepts

Strategic concepts derive not only from strategic interests but also from strategic culture. The broad range of similarities in China and Russia's strategic concepts are unique among relations of major nations.

Firstly, the two countries have similar strategic concepts in establishing new type of relations which requires equal respect, mutual trust and consultation, mutual benefit and win-win cooperation, as well as "three no's" policies, namely "nonalignment, non-antagonism and not-aimed at any third country."

Secondly, the two countries have similar concepts on issues of development. Russia's "sovereign democracy" and "controllable market economy" has a lot in common with China's "socialist democracy" and "a socialist market economy with Chinese characteristics."

Thirdly, the two countries have similar ideas on a wide range of major international issues. For example, on world multi-polarization, democratization of international relations, diversity of civilization, establishment of a just and rational international political and economic order, and in opposition to hegemony and unilateralism, China and Russia are very close partners.

Deepening strategic understanding

Common interests alone cannot guarantee strategic relations. Countries must arrive at mutual understandings of their common interests.

From the Chinese side, it is a common view that Russia has major strategic value for China. Russia is China's largest neighbor. It has a significant impact on the surrounding environment for China's peaceful development. According to China's foreign policy, its neighbors are of primary importance, the great powers are the keys, developing countries are the foundation and multilateral relations are the stage. According to such a foreign policy, Russia must be the focus of China's diplomatic strategy.

From the Russian side, there is growing awareness in mainstream public opinion of common strategic interests between the two countries. In recent years, Russia's top leaders and think tanks are taking an increasingly positive outlook on Russia and China's strategic cooperative partnership. They are toning down the "China threat theory" and stressing the "China opportunity theory."

The broad range of similarities in China and Russia's strategic interests, concepts and understandings are unique among big nations. This has both laid a solid foundation for strategic cooperation between the two countries and injected a powerful driving force for furthering the pragmatic bilateral cooperation.

The author is Vice President of the Chinese Society for the Study of the History of Sino-Russian Relation.

(This article was first published in Chinese and translated by Li Huiru.)

Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of

Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comments

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from