Russia and China have had a strategic partnership since the late 1950s. But as tensions around the world and added pressure from the U.S. increases, Russia and China have strengthened their friendship.
In November, Russia and China defense ministers met to discuss the increased intensive flights by the U.S. strategic bombers. The U.S. has launched strategic force exercising coming as close as 20 kilometers to Russian Borders. There were also bomber flights over the Sea of Okhotsk where the U.S. practiced reaching the points for launching cruise missiles that could be a threat to both China and Russia. Russia and China set the roadmap for closer military ties by signing a plan for military cooperation for 2021-2025.
Last summer, Russia and China participated together in a joint military exercise in China. The exercise also included reports of collaboration in aviation, undersea hypersonic weapons, and other military technology.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping have developed strong personal ties. In late 2021, they held a virtual meeting and official reports from both Beijing and Moscow portrayed the meeting as another friendly contestation to strengthen ties. The increased pressure from the U.S. and other western countries likely has contributed to these closer ties.
“Beijing and Moscow are forging closer ties because both governments view deep bilateral cooperation as a beneficial to their respective national interests,” said Neil Thomas, an analyst for China and northeast Asia.
But instead of seeing their cooperation as an alliance to provide aid, it seems to be more of mutual reliance and assurance neither will step in. As Russia builds up forces on the border of Ukraine, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) continues to move forward with consideration of adding both Georgia and Ukraine to their list of members. Putin and President Biden met in virtual meeting, and Putin said Washington should not allow Ukraine to join NATO in return for assurances Russia would agree not to invade Ukraine. Biden said he would not accept such a demand. Tensions continue to rise.
China has their own mounting tensions as they have made a number of military tactical moves in their goal of achieving superpower status by 2049. This makes neighboring Taiwan nervous. They have had tensions with China through the years, and Chinese military strength now stands at two million personnel with plans to modernize capabilities to improve readiness. Throughout 202,1 China has shown their military capabilities, even raising alarms about an attack on Taiwan. In the summer, there were a number of times when Taiwan scrambled jets when Chinese military aircraft crossed into their airspace. And the Chinese air show was a show of force and strength showcasing the J-20 and other technologies. Taiwan is also not confident if an attack took place how the U.S. would respond.
Time will tell what the tightening relationship between China and Russia actually means. And while U.S. experts might say it is their respective national interests and not because of ideological affinity, no one exactly knows how these two countries will support each other in the future. Though in the past Russia and China have rejected the possibility of a military alliance, Putin said in 2020 that even that option cannot be ruled out.