A New Sino-Russian Alliance?

In 2014, China and Russia ostensibly made great strides in advancing their economic and diplomatic cooperation, leading many to predict a revival of the Cold War alliance system of the mid-twentieth century. But the two countries are unlikely to be able to build a serious partnership to challenge the West.

CAMBRIDGE – Some analysts believe that 2014 ushered in a new era of Cold War-style geopolitics. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea was met with heavy economic sanctions from Europe and the United States, weakening Russia’s ties with the West and leaving the Kremlin eager to strengthen ties with China. The question is whether Russia will manage to build a real alliance with the People’s Republic.

At first glance, it seems plausible. Indeed, traditional balance-of-power theory suggests that US primacy in power resources should be offset by a Sino-Russian partnership.

Perhaps more convincing, there seems to be historical precedent for such a partnership. In the 1950s, China and the Soviet Union were allied against the US. After US President Richard Nixon’s opening to China in l972, the balance shifted, with the US and China cooperating to limit what they viewed as a dangerous rise in the Soviet Union’s power.

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