A China and Russia collaboration seemed far off especially considering the history, cultural misunderstanding and competition between the two nations. However, that seems to be changing in relation to power shifts and Western agenda. Will Russia be China’s ticket to winning the South China Sea dispute?
Powers are changing and alliances are shifting. What many thought previously as impossible may now be happening as Moscow and Beijing grow closer together. Beijing’s resources have helped Moscow survive the lean years. In turn, Russia has been a ticket to China’s advancements in weaponry and potentially its overall military capabilities. Nonetheless, changes are more considerable in recent years especially in relation to China’s ambition in the South China Sea.
According to National Interest: “Even as the above developments have unfolded with major strategic consequences over the last two decades, a more ambitious program of military collaboration now seems to be in the works. In particular, joint naval drills on an unprecedented and growing scale during 2014 and 2015 imply a new level of seriousness.”
For instance, the naval exercise between the two countries in 2014 focused on “naval combat.” There was the emphasis on the doctrine from the Russian Navy in relation to the “the most effective tactics against US carrier groups.” However, as things would dictate, annual drills between the two nations seemed insufficient that they conducted a larger drill in the Sea of Japan in August last year. The exercise featured twenty-three surface vessels, two submarines, fifteen fixed-wing aircraft, eight helicopters, as well as both airborne forces and marines – the largest naval exercise to date. As China continues to push its ambitions in the South China Sea, many see its relation with Russia as a possible contributor to how powers and tensions will shift eventually.
The United States has constantly named the two nations as threats to security and that won’t seem to change immediately.
The alliance between the two countries could be further seen after China praised Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks about the South China Sea dispute. According to Lavrov, parties involved in the dispute should adhere to principles of non-use of force and continue to look for ways to solve the issue politically and diplomatically.
“Anyone who really cares about peace and stability in the South China Sea should support China and countries directly involved to solve the disputes through negotiation and consultation, in accordance with international law, bilateral agreements and the Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC),” Xinhua quoted Foreign Ministry Spokesman Lu Kang.