America, China, Russia — the three most powerful Nations of the world, three countries, relations between which are constantly changing. After the Communists came to power in Beijing in 1949, the American political elite for many years painfully sought an answer to the question: who lost China? During the Korean war in the next decade, American troops and Chinese “volunteers” — and in fact, the personnel of the army under the command of the future of the Chinese defense Minister, Peng Dehuai entered into direct clashes.
Two decades later, the situation has changed beyond recognition. American capitalists and Chinese Communists suddenly found a common language and become actual allies in the confrontation with the “revisionists” from Moscow. And in the triangle of Beijing — Washington — Moscow is the situation now? And what are the future projections? All this and many other “MK” told academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences Andrei Kokoshin, Dean of faculty of world politics of Moscow state University and former Secretary of the security Council of the Russian Federation.
Autumn 2015, the White house, USA. Obama and Chinese leader XI Jinping enjoy the concert of American singer No-yo. However, the real relations between Beijing and Washington is not as harmonious as it might seem, looking at this photo. Photo: china.org.cn
Andrey Afanasyevich that, by and large, China needs from Russia is raw materials?
— China for a very long historical perspective need good relations with Russia as a good neighbor. The Chinese leadership, the expert community among the military, the prevailing view is: in foreign policy concerning the most difficult challenges await China in the Pacific direction in relations with the US and its allies. This refers primarily to the region of the South China sea and northeast, where Beijing has disputes with Japan. There are also American military bases.
Obama proclaimed a reversal of US policy in the Pacific. But is this reversal including by strengthening the us naval presence near the disputed Islands in the South China sea. Accordingly, within the framework of Chinese military reform, the main efforts in forming strategic inter-specific commands and equipping the new military equipment is concentrated in these areas. Against this background, the Chinese leadership is very important to have a good neighbor and secured the rear on his Northern borders and in Central Asia. This allows China to focus on defending their interests on a priority for Beijing directions.
— Still, what is the role of Russia in the global struggle of China for access to raw materials?
China is very dependent on energy imports. Now the main channels of energy supply to China pass through the Indian ocean, the Strait of Malacca. China is developing its Navy in this direction, to be able to ensure the safety of these flows. Along with this the Chinese leadership very seriously thinking about diversification of energy sources and other raw materials and transport links. For Beijing this is a critically important strategic issue. We often underestimate the vulnerability of sea lanes of China, Beijing’s sensitivity on this issue.
And to reduce it, maintaining the current scheme of energy supplies and other raw materials, Beijing will be very difficult. In the United States periodically report about the necessity to maintain unconditional American military superiority on the seas and the ability to “project power” in any area of the World ocean. This led the Chinese leadership to think about the need of a much wider use of land routes of supply of raw materials and in General, land route freight transportation. This is what underlies the idea of a new “silk road” project to create a Grand transport corridors across Eurasia in the coming 40-50 years. This is potentially a very serious project, designed in particular to reduce the value of China ocean communications.
— And to what extent the project “silk road” meets Russian interests?
— It is important to understand that while “silk road”, according to many indicators, is a broad concept, addressing a variety of options of transport corridors. A number of these options would meet the interests of Russia. They include a strong highways that will connect us with the Asia-Pacific region — the area of the globe, which has recently developed much faster than the Euro-Atlantic region. This will encourage the development of a number of regions of our country. We are talking about the creation of a large number of new jobs, on a new qualitative level of development of rail and road transport, various industries, agriculture. It is assumed that the creation of the infrastructure of the silk road on the Russian territory will occur largely through the use of the products of our enterprises.
photo: From personal archive
— And how about the fact that some branches of the “silk road” must pass through the right of Kazakhstan to the European part of Russia, or altogether bypass our territory? Don’t kill it all the transit potential of Siberia and the Far East?
— You are certainly right that we are in any case can not forget about our interest, associated in particular with the TRANS-Siberian railway. We must consistently defend these interests in the negotiations with China. It is clear that the process of these negotiations and the linking of different transport streams will be very long and complex. But we should not rely on China alone. We need to have their plans and their strategy of development of the Far East and Siberia with the participation of other countries in the region. And, unfortunately, with the pace of development of these two vast Eastern regions of our country the case is not so good as we would like. Of course, a number of steps taken. But we need to do everything faster and bigger.
— In terms of size of its economy, China is close to that to “catch up and overtake” the USA. And as far as Beijing is close to achieving military parity with the United States?
In Beijing such a problem for the foreseeable future will not put. In order to achieve military parity, it is necessary not only to be comparable with the Americans defense spending: China in this regard is far behind. Need for another two or three decades to accumulate the results of increased spending on the military. Apparently, China is not going to boost this growth. He very carefully studied the sad experience of the Soviet Union in this field and is not going to overextend its economy.
But the Americans have one feature: they try to exercise their almost global military presence. But if you take the local situation in the Asia-Pacific region, the Chinese are already there in a number of areas parity with the Americans. This applies primarily to balance forces in the South China sea. According to us estimates, the Chinese here have achieved the ability to keep U.S. aircraft carrier connections to the “arm’s length”.
— And whether this ability is tested in practice? To what extent can reach the worsening of relations between China and the United States?
— It would be very bad if it came to mutual hostilities. That would be not only the interests of China and the United States, but also the interests of Russia and the entire world economy. This is well understood in Washington and in Beijing. But the balance of power is changing radically. Terms of military power China for a very long time was in a weakened state. When in 1995, the Americans sent to the Taiwan area two aircraft carrier connections, the Chinese are a little that could oppose this. The evaluation of Chinese military experts were as follows: available on these aircraft carriers strike means of carrier-based aircraft was stronger than almost all the air forces of China…
From this episode were the conclusions. Chinese capabilities in this area increased significantly, including through the supply planes from Russia and made in China under our license, through the supply of Russian anti-aircraft missiles. China can now implement a more effective policy of strategic deterrence of the United States. In America this new situation, many perceive it very painful.
— Invented at Washington, what to do?
— In the US now think through various options neutralize Chinese advances. First of all we are talking about the formulation and implementation of so-called “third compensation strategy”. “The first strategy of compensation” were made by America in the 50 years of the twentieth century. In terms of the superiority of Soviet land forces in Europe America have relied on the maintenance of its leading position in the field of nuclear weapons. “The second strategy of compensation” was implemented in 70-80-ies. The Soviet Union had achieved strategic nuclear parity with America. USA tried to neutralize this achievement with a number of breakthrough military projects.
According to the thinking of American strategists, the basis of the third compensation strategy” should be a breakthrough in a wide range of technologies. Considered, for example, the use of railguns (electromagnetic guns), hypersonic non-nuclear means of destruction. Another thing is that many of these technologies are not so new as some think. China and Russia — the goal of the “third compensation strategy is not only Beijing, but also in Moscow — there are many ways to neutralize this American strategy. We must not forget that the relations of these powers a huge role is still played by nuclear deterrence. Here Russia and the US are roughly equivalent arsenals; in China it is much less. But in qualitative terms, Beijing is much strengthened in recent years.
— Let’s try to summarize: is it possible to completely exclude the possibility of military conflict between America and China?
“I hope all parties to show prudence and try to avoid it. But we see that America is a growing discomfort the growth of the military power of China on one side, and Russia on the other. Washington will strive to maintain its leadership in the world. The possibility that China will be a more important state than the US is for America simply ideologically unacceptable. So the risk of aggravation of the situation there. It is, for example, due to the scale of U.S. action on missile defense in the Asia-Pacific region that are greater than in Europe. In Beijing, we are confident that America’s actions directed against him.
Raises fears of the emergence in the United States the illusion that they will have new opportunities for the use of military force in types of cell level. It may negatively affect strategic stability.
Harvard University’s Professor Graham Allison is one of the classics of modern political theory. He says that the biggest challenge facing U.S. relations with China, to avoid the so-called “Thucydides trap”. The famous Greek historian Thucydides in his classic work on the Peloponnesian war, described the reasons why in the fifth century BC, Sparta began the war against Athens, Sparta was very scared of their economic, military and political growth, decided to wage war against Athens to stop this growth.
Twenty years ago, nor what kind of military parity between America and China could not be considered. Now the situation has changed dramatically.
— You have very convincingly proved that in the foreseeable future, China is unprofitable to spoil relations with Russia. But how the Chinese elite strong position of forces which can be described as “anti-party”? As, for example, to understand the emergence of last year via a matter of days after Medvedev’s visit to Beijing at the official Chinese Xinhua news Agency article that “Russia entered into a strategic dead end”?
— I have not seen the publication that you’re talking about. But in modern Chinese public space a wide and diverse range of opinions — and about Russia, and about many other issues in world politics. Some of our experts are very skeptical about the possibilities of the Chinese economy in the current environment. Why do we deny the same right to Chinese colleagues?
Now, regarding the first part of your question. I don’t think the Chinese elite is “anti-party”. Yes, there are different levels there is a group of figures who make economizing positions. In relation to world politics, they primarily take into account the high degree of economic interdependence, which are from China and the United States, and the particular importance of the U.S. market for Chinese goods. But these people are generally not configured Pro-American. They, too, are struggling to ensure Chinese economic and political national interests. And they are not ready to follow in the mainstream of American foreign policy.
— Let’s talk about areas of divergence of interests of Russia and China. Such areas too, there is, isn’t it?
— Any pair of major powers always have conflicts. They are, even when officially declared complete harmony. We have with China are not always the same economic interests — especially if to speak about concrete projects in Central Asia. But the degree of multi-directional such our interest is not so high to block their degree of match.
If we talk about world politics, both Russia and China are critics and opponents of the behavior of the US and its allies. They are partners in ensuring stability and security in Central Asia. We have a significant convergence of views on the situation in the middle East, including Syria, the situation in the Asia-Pacific region. We have a common approach to issues such as the creation of the United States of the various components of missile defence. It is quite a large set, which allows to talk about strategic partnership.
— But how can last such “strategic partnership”? Increasing power increases and arrogance, and decreases the degree of critical attitude. Where is the guarantee that this will not happen with China?
— Warranty — it’s actually quite a controversial concept in politics. Everything flows, everything changes. You should very carefully monitor these changes in each new situation to find new ways to solve their problems. I believe that the Chinese leadership very seriously aware of the depth of the problems facing them and in foreign and in domestic politics. China’s acute environmental problem. According to Chinese estimates, environmental problems cost the country 2% of GDP per year. Many acute social problems. Still not solved properly the problems of the development of many internal regions of the PRC. The only solution of these tasks will take many decades. Add additional “a headache” due to the deterioration of relations with Russia would be China’s completely irrational. And that is peculiar to China, the Chinese political tradition is a very high degree of rationality, concreteness, objectivity, pragmatism. These traditions have been around for thousands of years, and there is no reason to believe that they will go away.
— And we not overestimate the degree of rationality of the Chinese? In 1969 you were 24 years old, and you remember the clashes, the USSR and China, Sino-Soviet, right?
— We then had a very sharp ideological conflict with China. And the ideological conflict always gives rise to very strong emotions — especially when it comes to intraspecific ideological confrontation. We remember that in his time the religious wars in Europe were fought between different branches of Christianity. However, it is not necessary to think that China’s actions in 1969 was dictated by emotion. According to many experts, the danger of a major war between China and the Soviet Union did not exist. The Chinese just wanted to show that they are an influential force. Another reason the actions of the then leaders in Beijing — a very serious situation that has developed in China both in economic and in political terms. The aim of the conflict with the Soviet Union was to mobilize the country on a nationalist basis. This led to the events on Damanski-Zhenbao, the Soviet-Chinese border in Kazakhstan.
I think the likelihood of recurrence of such conflicts in the future for the foreseeable future is very small. Very true that now our cooperation is based on completely non-ideological grounds. It is built on the combination of those interests about which we talked. This approach is much simpler, safer to avoid collisions.
But I wonder if, when China established the role of the second superpower, he is in the relationship with us changed the tone to a more commanding?
— I repeat: do not think that in politics there is no guarantee for the long term. We need to develop, to grow, to conduct in relation with the specific pragmatic China policy, actively implement various joint projects. Now we have relationships at a high level. Wisely to use what the Chinese authorities are interested in us, in friendly relations with us. You need to use it all, especially for the development of Siberia and the Far East.
— And who more wisely use the time in respect of such structures as the Shanghai cooperation organization? How can we deny that the first violin plays in the SCO Beijing and not Moscow?
— I do not agree with you. SCO is a very interesting education, equal role in the activities which play simultaneously, and Russia and China. Understand that SCO is in any case not like NATO or the European Union. The meaning of the existence of the SCO is largely a matter of ensuring security in Central Asia. What happened and is happening in Afghanistan, many serious concern in Moscow and Beijing and many other capitals. 90% of the Shanghai organization was created to address the problems with terrorism, separatism and extremism. And that is not a “pocket” of the Chinese structure, is proved by the fact that recently the SCO on its own initiative, entered the India and Pakistan. Actively asks and Iran. The elites of these three countries is very pragmatic. If membership in the Shanghai cooperation organization did not promise them concrete benefits, they would go there not sought.
— Not whether SCO is a tool of Chinese economic penetration in former Soviet Central Asia?
— China to this end, SCO is not really needed. All the questions of its economic participation in the development of Central Asia they can solve on a bilateral basis, without involving the mechanisms of the SCO. In different formats of communication by the representatives of China emphasize that they recognize the priority of Russian interests in Central Asia. Moscow and Beijing real large-scale strategic partnership. And that’s it.Related posts: