The specter haunting Washington

By Zhao Jinglun
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, May 23, 2014
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 [By Jiao Haiyang/]

 [By Jiao Haiyang/]

The specter of the China-Russia partnership is haunting the United States, which has committed a cardinal diplomatic sin of simultaneously taking on both great powers.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and the visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a joint statement, agreed to elevate their broad strategic cooperative partnership to a new higher stage, as they plan to work closer together in practically every field.

Most notable is the signing of a decade-long gas deal by which Gazprom will supply China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) with 38 billion cubic meters of natural gas every year for thirty years, beginning no later than the end of 2018. The deal is reportedly worth US$400 billion, and it may be paid not in petrodollars but in Chinese yuan. Some analysts even talked about the yuan becoming a new international reserve currency.

The conclusion of the gas deal will seal the "strategic energy alliance" between the two countries. It signifies Moscow's strategic shift to the Asian market as Europe seeks to cut reliance on Russian energy following the Ukraine crisis.

The two presidents personally attended the opening of the joint naval exercise off Shanghai in the sensitive East China Sea. It was unusual for both heads of state to personally open the drill. And the drill, which will last until the 26th, is of an unprecedented scale with 14 surface ships participating, including six from Russia's Pacific fleet led by its flagship Slava class guided missile cruiser, the Varyag. The rest are from three Chinese fleets: the state of the art 052C guided missile destroyer the Zhengzhou, two submarines and nine fixed-wing aircraft.

The exercise is not targeted at any third country. But Western observers say it sends a message to Japan and its Big Brother, the United States.

The Western press also stresses the military side of the China-Russia partnership, mentioning Russia's ultra-sophisticated S-500 air defense anti-missile system coming on line in 2018. China would like to have a version of it. And China will acquire dozens of Su-35 jet fighters. China and Russia will work together to develop a wide-body air liner.

The two partners will increase their two-way trade to US$100 billion by 2015 and US$200 billion by 2020.

In April, when President Xi visited Duisburg on the Rhine, he proposed the building of a new "economic Silk Road" between China and Europe on the basis of the Chongqing-Xinjiang-Europe railway, which is already running from China to Kazakhstan. That will herald the birth of what is sometimes called a "Eurasian Century".

Both leaders attended the fourth Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) which adopted a "Shanghai Declaration." The main points of the declaration are as follows: No country should seek its own security at the expense of the security of other countries; no violation of other countries' territorial integrity and political independence by use of force or threat of force; no country should violate the UN Charter; there should be settlement of disputes by peaceful means; no interference in other country's internal affairs and no support for any action designed to subvert a legitimate government (regime change).

Washington complained that the Asian security architecture excludes the United States. But, as China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi explained: the security of Asia has to be managed by Asian countries themselves.

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