The Bilateral Relations Between China and Russia

Bilateral Relations and Foreign Policy

Bilateral relations are agreements ties between any two sovereign states. These ties dictate the way of conduct of the political, economic, and cultural activities between the two countries. The two countries also exchange diplomatic agents in order to facilitate negotiations and adherence to the laid cooperation (Kavalski 132).

Foreign policy can be defined as a country’s strategies and interests put in place in order to achieve the said country’s goals and objectives. They guide a state’s international interactions in an attempt o maximize bilateral and multilateral benefits from other countries (Shimko 23).

Analyzing the bilateral relations between China and Russia and by addressing the various components favoring the two countries’ relationship, it is true that the Chinese Nationalism has played an important role in creating strong and beneficial bilateral relationships.

Chinese Nationalism

China has over the years been on the rise and a constant threat to the west. The Chinese Nationalism was brought about by the countries historical greatness and humiliation termed as the century of humiliation. Nationalism asserted the pride of China and its citizens in promoting national unity and maintaining their aggressive culture. It puts national interests first preserving its national independence. Its hypersensitivity towards the issue of sovereignty is evidenced by its use of its veto powers at the security council in connection to interstate matters. It was drawn from the ideologies of Marxism, progressivism, and aggression (Kavalski 143).

Before the emergence of nationalism, China considered itself as a victim of the western imperialism during the period between the Opium war and the Second World War whereby its sovereignty was lost and humiliated (Kavalski 139). The rise of Nationalism in China has also led to the decline of the communist ideology of the twentieth century. China, however, does not try to be an international leader in avoidance of being a target of international interference and excessive aggression being directed to it (Bolt and Cross 99).

Bilateral Relations Between China and Russia

The bilateral relations between Russia and China have evolved to become among some of the strongest ones today. Their relationship started from a similar foreign policy determinant after the collapse of the Soviet Union hence making the two countries oppose the unipolar rule of the world by the United States (Wilson 105). The two countries’ political and economic partnerships have been considered as a crucial factor in the global policy-making due to the threat posed by their bilateral cooperation. The initiation of foreign policies and changes varying through historical is dependent on their interaction with the goals and targets of the Chinese Nationalism. However, this does not alienate the impacts of other factors and forces. Nationalism, in relation to the development of foreign policies, aims at creating strong friendly relationships with other developed nations with Russia being one of them (Kavalski 113). The Chinese Nationalism seeks to achieve local development, acquisition of resources, and technology through beneficial and mutual interactions with other developed countries (Shimko 231).

China-Russia Bilateral Relationship

The China-Russia bilateral relationship, which is considered a special relationship, has evolved to build strategic targets for both states and boost Chinese Nationalism. In 1994 and 1996, the two nations made two Partnership agreements. In 2001, they signed a treaty of Friendship and Cooperation. In 2012, they made a comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation. It was later renewed in 2014 (Wilson 176). Come of the major principles guiding their agreements and treaties were having mutual trust, mutual benefit, and economic equality in their setting of targets. The placement of sanctions by the European Union and the United States to Russia also strengthened its bilateral relations with China. In this case, the strategic partnership of 2014 enhanced the depth of the political, economic, and security partnership strategies (Wilson 180). The Chinese investment to the Belt and Road initiative (BRI) saw Russia becoming one of the largest recipients (Kavalski 144). Their cooperation intensified more and evidenced by the May 8, 2015 announcement of the integration of the BRI and the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) of Russia. This announcement was made during the annual commemoration of World War II (Shimko 88).

Sociocultural Integration and Security Cooperation

The Nationalism determinant is clearly evidenced by the integration and intensification of the two countries' cultural exchanges. This showed that their relationship went beyond the political and economic dimensions in their bilateral agreements. There was a sociocultural integration in different levels of the society. At the start of 2016, the heads of state urged their respective legislative houses to ensure the enhancement of mutual learning in the formulation, development, supervision, and coordination of legislative policies and initiatives in all levels of governance. In 2017, the leaders of the two countries highlighted their interest and support for a media exchange year as well as people-people cultural exchanges (Lubina 211). The role of the media was to portray the growth in friendship as well as communicating the mutual cultural awareness between the citizens of both nations.

With both countries, for a long time having a similar anti-west position, the Chinese nationalism always prevailed in military and security cooperation with Russia. China greatly regarded its sovereignty and the security of its citizens as a priority and especially from the encroachment of the west (Shimko 116). In line with this, China and Russia have increasingly held common security concerns and have been intensifying joint military drills in recent years. This was considered a necessity due to their similarity in terms of the international security environment. In 1949, China under President Mao Zedong sought an alliance with the Soviet Union against the U.S. and other Western powers. President Mao was at that time a Nationalist and hence it is argued that the “leaning on one side” policy was based on Nationalism and not Ideology. Despite this alliance strengthening the Nationalism goal, it became contradictory and hence leading to a breakup. However, the two countries later became allies due to their situations (Lubina 199). Recently, the Russian administration under President Putin has voiced its support for the Government of China against the interference of external powers on the South China Sea. China, on the other hand, has shown support for Russia in regards to the annexation of Crimea and its historical links. It has also backed up the Intervention made by Russia to Syria while championing for an end to the war in a political arrangement (Lubina 220).

Economic Relations

Economic relations between the two countries have boosted trade. Between 2008 and 2009, Russia faced a financial crisis which led to an increased borrowing trend from China (Lubina 142). Russia exports a significant amount of its minerals and petrochemicals to China, hence fulfilling their mutual geopolitical interests. However, there have been strained energy relations fueled by suspicion, pricing, and competition.

Impact on East and Central Asia

The strengthened Russia-China bilateral relations have, to a significant extent, affected the relations of East and Central Asia and the world as a whole. The bilateral relationships are motivated by various factors among them; the U.S. repelling factor, shared strategic convergence, border issues, territorial integrity, energy, and their geographic proximity (Wilson 200). All of these factors play a role in the Nationalism determinant of foreign policies. The Chinese Nationalism context in developing their foreign policies has led to their confrontational position against the west as well as ensuring a maintenance of tougher measures on their maritime territories with their neighbors (Shimko 165). There has also been increasing public opinion for more stringent foreign policies. The country is, at the moment, enjoying a sense of empowerment due to its increased wealth and military strengths as it pursues its core National interests (Wilson 231).

Challenges and Conclusion

Analysts believe that the Nationalism way of formulating foreign policy portrays an expansionist and chauvinistic character which, in turn, makes China a more aggressive country (Bolt and Cross 154). There is also an argument that the success of the Nationalism was greatly aided by the China Communist Party (CCP). China’s Nationalism also faces several challenges in the future, such as globalization and the open-door policy, which is currently an important contributor to its economic development (Bolt and Cross 162).

Since the end of World War II, generations of Chinese have believed in the promotion of the country’s Independence and sovereignty as the pillar to promoting Chinese Nationalism. The above evolution and analysis of the China-Russia bilateral relationship show the interaction between the country’s foreign and the means of achieving China's Nationalism goals. Among the main goals of China’s Nationalism include their ability to protect its territorial integrity, such as their stand against the interference of the South China Sea, whereby they have the support of Russia. Other goals include economic development, the promotion of the country’s image internationally, protecting the fundamental systems of the country. China’s strategic bilateral partnerships with Russia, such as the Treaty of Good Neighborliness, cooperation, and friendship, were a reflection of their determination towards pushing for the idea of nationalism and hence its continued growth. The relationship and the foreign policies in totality ensure the protection of China’s sovereignty and the adherence to the Nationalism determinant of foreign policy.


Works Cited

Bolt, Paul J and Sharyl Cross. China, Russia, and twenty-first century global geopolitics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018. document.

Kavalski, Emilian. The Ashgate Research Companion to Chinese Foreign Policy. London: Taylor and Francis, 2016. document.

Lubina, Michał. Russia and China : a political marriage of convenience, stable and successful / Michał Lubina. Opladen: Barbara Budrich Publishers, 2017. print.

Shimko, Keith L. The foreign policy puzzle : interests, threats and tools. New York: Oxord University Press, 2017. print.

Wilson, Jeanne Lorraine. Strategic partners : Russian-Chinese relations in the post-Soviet era. New York: Taylor " Francis Group, 2015. document.

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