Russia-China-India Alliance to Counter the US, Is It Possible?Posted: June 11, 2014
Russian President Putin is glad that there is a de facto alliance with China; therefore, he told reporters in an interview with major Chinese media that Russia-Chinese relations are the best ever now.
He meant the relations are better than in the 1950s when there was a treaty of alliance between the two countries though there is no treaty of alliance now.
To realize his ambition for the restoration of Russia’s status of the former Soviet Union as a superpower rival to the US, the alliance with China is vital for Russia to counter the US.
As India is now a rising emerging economy, an alliance of Russia, China and India will be even more powerful, enough even to drive the US away from Asia.
Chinese history provides much experience of one strongest state forming separate alliance with weaker ones to conquer them one by one and the weaker ones forming alliance to resist the strongest one.
The US perhaps lacks such experience due to its short history so that it fails to use China as an ally to deal with Russia when China has “unrequited love” for it. On the contrary, it turned China away to Russia’s side by its pivot to Asia. As a result, Russia and China gradually formed an alliance that has given rise to the West’s trouble in Ukraine and China’s offensives in the South China Sea.
Media outside China misunderstood China and regarded China as more assertive before China began to take offensives. In fact, China had remained defensive before. The Scarborough standoff took place because Philippine navy began to capture Chinese fishing boats and forbid Chinese fishermen’s fishing there. It was not a case of China being more assertive as described by the media outside China.
Due to US pivot to Asia, the Philippines began to take offensive thinking it could rely on US support. Unfortunate for the Philippines, the US failed to support it. As a result, China took complete control of Scarborough Shoal and forbid fishing by Philippine fishermen there.
Even with such success, China had refrained from adopting its navy’s plan to take Zhongye Island back from the Philippines for fear of harming its relations with the US and ASEAN.
Now, as China has Russia as a reliable ally and as the West is in trouble in Ukraine, China is taking bold offensives at the South China Sea. Its oil rig move signals the beginning of its oil and gas exploitation there and its reclamation for the construction of a naval and air base in the middle of the South China Sea aims at countering US presence at Philippine military bases.
It has now dawned on the US though perhaps too late that other countries are forming an alliance against it, the US has to make some counter moves. The key now is India.
There are problems for the three-country alliance:
First, who shall be the head of the alliance. I have mentioned in my previous post that Chinese President Xi Jinping passed Snowden to Putin to give Putin a clear signal that Xi wanted Putin to be the leader in confronting the US.
As Indea is not strong enough to be the leader, Putin can be certain that he will be the leader of the alliance.
Second, the much trickier problem is the border disputes between China and India.
This time, the US is wise to draw Modi, the newly elected Indian prime minister, to its side. The US has invited him to visit the US in September to drive a wedge between India and China.
Putin is certainly shrewd enough to be aware of that. Due to prolonged good relations between Russia and India, Putin has certainly been doing his best to urge India and China to conciliate.
Xi Jinping is shrewd too. Soon after Modi was elected, he dispatched his foreign minister Wang Yi as his special envoy to visit India.
According to Wang Yi, his visit is an unqualified success.
In its report, Bloomberg quotes Wang Yi as saying to reporters at the end of his two-day visit including a meeting with Indian PM, “Through years of negotiation, we have come to an agreement on the basics of a boundary agreement, and we are prepared to reach a final settlement.”
What is even more worrisome for the US is Wang’s description of “China-India cooperation as a massive buried treasure waiting to be discovered,” Wang said. “The potential is massive.”
India is not less enthusiastic. Its Foreign Ministry says in its website, India “PM emphasized the potential for greater cooperation between India and China for a strong and prosperous Asia, working for mutually beneficial trade and investment as economic partners, joining hands in various areas like counter-terrorism as neighbours, and promoting vigorous cultural exchanges as inheritors of ancient civilizations having extensive historical and spiritual contacts.”
Reuters said in its report yesterday, “Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged greater cooperation with China on Monday and said he planned to visit Beijing soon, underlining his administration’s promise to make a new beginning with the country’s giant neighbor.”
US Vice President Biden attaches great importance to relations between country leaders. He has contracted friendship with Xi Jinping since Xi visited the US as China’s vice president. The friendship facilitates his success in his later visit to deal with China’s establishment of East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). The visit seemed a failure, but was in fact a success perhaps due to the friendship. I said in my previous post that China was provoking Japan to fight a war with it by the establishment of the ADIZ, but Biden prevented the war by obtaining China’s promise not to fire the first shot. As the US is able to persuade Japan not to fire the first shot, there has so far been no war in spite of the tension.
US relations with Modi are precisely the opposite. While China has cultivated satisfactory friendship with Modi by treating him as state head during Modi’s four visits to China as a weak opposition leader. US leaders did not have the discerning eyes to tell greatness from mediocrity. The US had snubbed Modi for a long time until he was elected Indian prime minister.
Compared with the US, China’s border dispute with India is a great problem, but the potential benefits of economic cooperation are a counterweight to offset the problem. There are no such benefits in US-Indian relations. Therefore, China is in a much better position than the US due to its leaders’ personal relations with Modi.
Biden has the charm to contract friendship with other countries’ leaders that Obama does not seem to have. However, Biden does not seem hopeful to be the next president.
Anyway, the US has to make great diplomatic efforts as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been trying hard to improve relations with Russia. Abe has met Putin five times since he was elected. Only one time less than Xi Jinping since Xi became Party General Secretary. Putin wants to sell Japan while Japan wants to buy Russian oil and gas. There are great interests involved.
On the other hand, if Xi Jinping’s reform gives rise to Chinese people’s huge demand for foreign goods, Japan will be America’s fearful competitor for the Chinese market. Under such circumstances, Japan may very likely be drawn to Russia’s side. If that happens, what ally will the US have in Asia? Only the ungrateful Philippines?
Article by Chan Kai Yee
Source: Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India “Chinese President’s Special Envoy calls on Prime Minister”
Source: Bloomberg “China Prepared to Settle India Border Dispute, Wang Says”
- India’s Modi calls for greater cooperation with China dated yesterday
- China, India Conduct Intensive Discussions to Avoid Border Conflict dated May 6, 2014
- China plays down Indian opposition leader’s border remarks dated February 25, 2014
- Chinese and Indian Border Troops Celebrate New Year Together dated January 11, 2014
- China, India sign deal aimed at soothing Himalayan tension dated October 24, 2013
- China offers India a ‘handshake across the Himalayas’ May 21, 2013
- Indian Media’s Sensationalizing News on Chinese Invasion “Entirely Untrue” dated April 26, 2013