How far can the fr-iendship between Moscow and Be-ijing go, why the confrontation between the United States and China exists only in the heads of Washington, how the Am-erican shame on the Ta-iwan issue is expressed, and how non-standard a-pproaches can help Cen-tral Asia? Center for Strategic and Internatio-nal Studies, Valdai Club expert Nelson Wong.
Gazeta.Ru : How far can Russia and China go in rapprochement? For example, The Jerusalem Post recently wrote that Russia and China could create a military alliance. From your point of view, is it real? And if so, under what circumstances?
Nelson Wong : I can say that over the past 10+ years, there has been very significant progress. This can be seen both in the growing confidence of the leaderships of our countries, and in the fact that both sides respect and understand well the main interests of each other.
The main thing is that both China and Russia see multipolarity in the same way and recognize the UN as a platform for resolving global issues. Both countries are categorically against the interference of third countries in the internal affairs of others, as well as unilateral measures, which the United States often resorts to.
It is also worthy of respect that Russia always responds well and in a timely manner to all major problems on the world stage and speaks openly about what it considers right or wrong.
- Still, what about further rapprochement between Moscow and Beijing?
- China speaks of its commitment to the foreign policy of peaceful coexistence and non-alignment with alliances. But at the same time, as the Chinese leadership has repeatedly stated, the scale and scope of the comprehensive partnership between China and Russia is such that only heaven is the limit.
For anyone who understands Chinese culture, such rarely-used statements from high-ranking Chinese diplomats already reflect the PRC’s utmost confidence in Russia.
However, I still believe that to further strengthen our bilateral relationship, both sides have much more work to do to build trust be-tween peoples. It is a leng-thy process that requires enthusiasm, patience and persistence. I personally see great opportunities in economics alone, but a number of things will need to be done first.
- For example?
- The exchanges between our governments at the state and local levels will help both parties understand the similarities and differences in our systems of governance and legislation in the economy.
In general, the areas of our cooperation can cover much more areas – energy, agriculture, public transport and electric mobility, travel and hospitality, banking an-d financial services, aerospace and technology, etc.
And if cooperation extends from state-owned companies to the private sector, then this will become a decisive factor in strengthening the confidence of our peoples. To achieve this goal, it will be necessary to conduct educational forums, promotional events. All this will help our business communities to jointly find and develop new business and investment opportunities.
- Is it true that some Chinese experts believe that Russia can, under some conditions, quickly change its attitude towards friendship with China and move on to improving relations with the United States, which will change the balance of power? Can Moscow play a key role in this scenario?
- I have not heard such discussions, to be honest. But look at what thing here.
The Chinese leadership declares the country’s commitment to a peaceful recovery and that China will never strive to become a hegemon. And I have said many times that a better future cannot be achieved if the world is again divided into two competing camps, as was the case during the Cold War.
Disagreements and disputes between America and China on some issues can be called inevitable. But the so-called “US-China rivalry” is too much of an exaggeration being dramatized by Washington to spark widespread fear of an uptick China. At the same time, Beijing has never called Washington a rival.
Take the recent 3.5-hour meeting on November 16 between the Chinese and American leaders. She is believed to have been quite constructive. On it, both sides were completely fran-k and open about their i-nterests. Although the details of this meeting are unknown to the public, we saw clear signs of decreasing hostility and a willingness on both sides to reduce the risks of mutual confrontation. This testifies to the achievement of a certain level of mutual understanding between the governments of the two countries.
As for the role of Russia. As the largest and most resourced country on Earth, located between Europe and Asia, Russia itself is an important force in a multipolar world. She is too strong and proud to take sides or switch between China or the United States to equalize power.
- How do you assess the US factor in the issue of the reunification of China and Taiwan? How far is President Joe Biden ready to go on this issue, what can Washington’s participation in here lead to?
- He did not tell me anything about this, we do not know each other. Whatever he chooses to do by continuing to interfere in China’s internal affairs, he will be wrong anyway.
It is shameful that, while recognizing the policy of “one China” and the PRC as the only legitimate government, the United States contradicts itself, adhering to its “Taiwan Relations Law” of 1979 (according to it, Washington undertakes to provide assistance to the island in the event of a military threat. – “Gazeta.Ru”).
The US still hasn’t given up on its strategic ambiguity. They are still trying to use the Taiwan issue as a strategic lever, or rather, as one of the “cards” that the US believes is holding China back. All the while, separatists on the island have taken advantage of the US position, from time to time trying to go beyond what is possible.
But with the adoption in China of the “Law on Combating Secession” in 2005 and the clear designation of the “red lines”, it became clear that China is ready to defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country not only in words. He has alr-eady physically demonstr-ated this to the United Sta-tes and to anyone who dar-es to continue to interfere in China’s internal affairs.
And now tensions in the Taiwan Strait can be expected to ease as the US realizes that it has a broader agenda that requires cooperation with China.
- Do you agree that, in general, Biden’s policy towards China is softer than Trump’s? Or is there no difference globally?
- I would not say that Biden is softer towards China. But yes, being a career politician with a wealth of foreign policy experience, he is certainly more resourceful. He is able to assemble a team of experts and advisors who can offer a more thoughtful, practical and balanced set of actions regarding China.
- Is there any chance that the parties can end their confrontation, or at least stop it at the current level?
- Recent events show that the White House has realized that America’s goal is not to contain China or a new Cold War. It is obvious that, on the one hand, the US administration is faced with internal political, economic and social challe-nges, in which someone sees a split in the nation. On the other hand, there are the challenges of a rapidly cha-nging world that Biden’s predecessors did not face.
And while the pandemic caught the world by surprise, caused an economic downturn and human loss, it is also a wake-up call for all countries, including the United States. Perhaps it was against this backgro-und that the United States finally came to the conclusion that China is not their enemy, even if it is ready from time to time to go against the United States here and there. If this assumption of mine can withstand criticism, then both countries will be able to cope with further escalation of tension or to stop it.
- What is most effective in the issue of regional se-curity, in particular in Cent-ral Asia, after the Taliban came to power in Afghanis-tan? SCO ? Bilateral agreements? Something else?
- Bilateral agreements between countries are always necessary in any case. But to ensure regional security, multilateral platforms such as the SCO are important and, in principle, should be more effective.
No less important is the cultural tolerance of all participants in such organizations, the communication and negotiation skills of the main delegates.
Regional security often includes complex issues related to national interests. They can also intertwine with both bilateral and multilateral relationships. And so sometimes it would be good to think outside the box.
For example, a good and smart business negotiator will tell you that a bad deal is usually the result of not only the wrong price, but possibly also the wrong deal structure and, ultimately, a lack of creative thinking.
At the same time, I am of the opinion that regional security is always a matter of the leading countries of the region, without the involvement of external forces. But instead of clinging to gunboat diplomacy, leading countries can tackle regional security issues while also respecting the interests of less privileged countries. As the old saying goes: Respect must be earned.