East Asia and Pacific // Comments

04 june 2015

Pivotal questions about Russia's China pivot

Andrey Kortunov Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council, RIAC member

The risks for Russia do exist, but they are connected not with Russia-China bilateral interaction, but rather with Russian economic development dynamics. If Russia doesn’t modernize and diversify its economy, increase its innovation potential, the ties with China will remain one-sided: Russia will export raw materials, energy resources, military equipment and, in return, receive consumer goods, car manufacturing products and so on. In order to avoid that and proceed to more complex cooperation projects, we need to restructure our economy.

In some areas, Russia could use China’s help and experience, especially in infrastructure and transport projects, the development of the Asian region of Russia, and the creation of special economic zones that are so actively experimented with in China. There are plenty of things that we could take over from our Chinese partners.

Regarding the implications of the Russia-China partnership for the West, there are two major areas of concern. First is that such a geopolitical alliance will hamper American leadership in Asia as well as globally. To some extent there are signs of that already happening (Russia and China share the same position on Syria). But I wouldn’t overestimate this because on some other issues, for instance on North Korea, Russia and China seem to have the same position as the U.S. Therefore, I don’t think such concerns should be taken too seriously.

Another concern that does not seem significant at the moment, but might be important in the future, is that Russia and China undermine the U.S. economic role on the world stage. If Russia steps up its economic growth and China continues growing at the same rates, and if SCO and BRICS multilateral institutions will develop, the U.S. will have to adapt and lose some of its economic power on the world stage.

Sounce: Russia Direct

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Andrey Kortunov, “Pivotal questions about Russia's China pivot,” Russian International Affairs Council, 04 June 2015, http://russiancouncil.ru/en/inner/?id_4=6059

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