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The Burgeoning Sino-Russian Axis: Toward a New Cold War Divide?

Sino-Russian Axis

Putin will visit China again. Has the Sino-Russian axis structure taken shape?

TAIPEI- The article discusses the growing strategic coordination between China and Russia in response to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, raising concerns about the potential implications for global geopolitics. China and Russia are strengthening their military cooperation, potentially forming an axis relationship that challenges the West.

The Sino-Russian alliance, under Xi Jinping’s leadership, is becoming stronger, with a focus on expanding trade and military ties. The ongoing conflict in Ukraine is seen as a catalyst for this alliance, with the potential for a larger, more complex conflict involving other countries like Iran and North Korea. The United States views China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea as major challenges, with strategic competition between the US and China becoming more apparent.

Key Concepts

  • Concerns about the growing strategic coordination between China and Russia in light of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
  • Russia and China appearing unafraid of sanctions from Western countries.
  • Strengthening of the Sino-Russian axis with new military strategies and potential cooperation.
  • Potential escalation in hostility between the China-led alliance and the West.
  • Emerging Sino-Russian geopolitical alliance as a challenge to the West.
  • China’s shifting stance on the Ukraine war towards a stronger alliance with Russia.
  • Concerns about a potential world war involving the US, China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea.
  • United States facing challenges from China’s global influence in various fields.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is believed to be traveling to China this week to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping as he begins his fifth term. Analysts warn that the war situation between Russia and Ukraine has made the strategic coordination between China and Russia closer and closer and may even extend to include Iran and North Korea. They worry that the Russia-Ukraine war is becoming the “first proxy war of the new Cold War” between China, Russia, and the West and that even the Ukraine war has become a new “world war.”

Xi Jinping visits France, Putin chokes on nuclear military exercises, and dictators “split up attacks”?

Xi Jinping has just returned to Beijing from a visit to Europe, and this week’s diplomatic drama may kick off with a visit from Putin. The Xi-Putin meeting has not yet appeared, but the two heads of state seem to have raised their voices in the international community and helped each other as early as a week ago.

On May 6, French President Emmanuel Macron called on Xi Jinping to use China’s influence on Putin to push for an end to the war between Russia and Ukraine. However, Xi Jinping made some unintentional accusations at a press conference. “Oppose the use of the Ukraine crisis to blame third countries for inciting a new Cold War.”

The New York Times analyzed that day and found that there was no sign that Xi Jinping would ask Russia, an ally with “unlimited friendship,” to stop the war.

On the day of the China-France summit, the Russian Ministry of Defense also issued a statement stating that Russia was planning to conduct tactical nuclear weapons exercises in response to “provocative statements and threats from France, the United Kingdom, and the United States against the Russian Federation.” Previously, Macron reiterated that he would not rule out sending troops to Ukraine.

After launching his fifth presidential term, Putin stated at the World War II Victory Day military parade held in Red Square on May 9 that Russia would not allow anyone to threaten. He said, “Our strategic (nuclear) forces are always on alert.”

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Regarding Xi Jinping and Putin’s symphony, Song Guocheng, a researcher at the National Relations Center of National Chengchi University in Taipei, said that a series of political and diplomatic statements from China and Russia have appeared intensively. It is difficult to say that it is a coincidence in time, and it is more like the “separation” of two dictators. Attack”.

Song Guocheng said that at present, it seems that China and Russia are not afraid of various sanctions from Western countries: Russia is still pressing forward step by step against Ukraine, and at the same time, it is also launching nuclear threats to the West, while China is still assisting Russia in a secret way. At the same time, the West is still hesitant in its countermeasures against China and Russia.

Pro-Russian officials of the Chinese Communist Party are raising their heads, and a “new axis” is taking shape?

Song Guocheng believes that, in addition to the diplomatic war of words, the recent military actions of China and Russia are also worthy of attention. For example, Xi Jinping split the original strategic support force into military aerospace, cyberspace, and information support forces, which means that he has adopted new military strategies. Strategy to prepare for long-term resistance to the United States.

Putin announced on May 12 that he would replace the Minister of Defense and that he would be replaced by First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov, who was an economist. This may be an attempt to strengthen the military-industrial complex and further increase cooperation with the West. Military and economic competition.

Song Guocheng told the media: “It can be seen from the military and diplomatic personnel arrangements of the two countries that the Sino-Russian axis structure has taken a fairly complete prototype and is getting stronger and stronger. The most important key is that the Russia-Ukraine war will become protracted, so that China, Russia, and Western countries have all entered new thinking and challenges.”

Song Guocheng believes that what is more worrying than the deepening of strategic cooperation between China and Russia is that the two countries’ military interactions with Iran and North Korea have become increasingly closer, which means that the hostility between the China-led alliance and the West is spiraling.

Under this premise of development, Western countries continue to adopt a war-avoidance approach similar to appeasement. Therefore, Song Guocheng pessimistically believes that the “axis relationship” between China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea will become closer and closer, with no possibility of loosening.

Zhang Junhua, a political scientist based in Berlin, Germany, also agrees that this “emerging China-Russia axis (the Burgeoning China-Russia axis)” has taken shape. He wrote an article in early March and pointed out that the Russia-Ukraine war has narrowed the distance between the two autocratic countries of China and Russia, and that the Sino-Russian geopolitical alliance is the realization of the Kremlin’s long-standing dream.

Zhang Junhua pointed out in the article that, in the early days of the Ukraine war, when the Russian offensive stalled, China adopted “smart diplomacy” in an attempt to avoid being labeled as an accomplice in the war and maintain relations with the West. Today, pro-Russian factions in Beijing appear to be gaining ground and believe Moscow will ultimately prevail.

Zhang Junhua wrote that, at least during Xi Jinping’s tenure, the Sino-Russian alliance has reached an irreversible point. He wrote that as Xi Jinping seems to have decided not to move closer to the West, the Sino-Russian partnership is likely to continue to grow, despite China’s neutral stance on the Russia-Ukraine issue. The scale of substantial trade in goods and services between China and Russia continues to expand, and dual-use equipment and industrial products from China have also made a huge contribution to Russia’s military strength on the Ukrainian battlefield.

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Zhang Junhua said that the close relationship between China and Russia is also reflected in the personnel of the CCP. Since Xi Jinping came to power, many Chinese officials who are pro-European and American have resigned, while pro-Russian officials have been greatly employed in the fields of diplomacy, military, and defense industry.

He said that the most noteworthy thing is the new Minister of Defense, Dong Jun. Not only is he fluent in Russian, he has also been trained in the “General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation”, Russia’s highest military institution.

Zhang Junhua told the media: “If the concept of modern warfare is used to guide the military, it is logical for Xi Jinping to use people educated at the U.S. Military Academy. But he used Dong Jun, who studied abroad in Russia, and his intention was very simple to strengthen military cooperation between China and Russia.”

U.S. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines also revealed at a hearing in early May that in addition to the Russia-Ukraine war, China and Russia also held joint military exercises to address the situation in the Taiwan Strait. In this regard, Zhang Junhua believes that this may cause a headache for the West because originally only one opponent was envisaged, but now there are two.

The Sino-Russian axis continues to expand, Scholars worry that the Russia-Ukraine war will become a “world war”

What’s more serious is that Hal Brands, a senior researcher at the American Enterprise Institute, wrote in Bloomberg on May 12 that as the two camps of China and Russia continue to cooperate and gather, the Russo-Ukrainian war is becoming a conflict between China and Russia. The West’s “first proxy war of the new Cold War” has even become a new “world war.” Citing South Korea and North Korea as examples, he pointed out, “Seoul and Pyongyang are continuing their decades-long struggle on the battlefield in Ukraine. This is a microcosm of the ongoing proxy war in the world.”

Brands pointed out that, compared to the Western democratic camp’s support for Ukraine, Iran has provided drones and ballistic missiles to Russia, while North Korea has sold 1 million to 3 million artillery shells to Russia. As for China, in addition to exporting dual-use industrial products to Russia, it has also become Moscow’s economic and trade hinterland, helping it alleviate the impact of Western sanctions.

Brands emphasized in the article that as the war between Russia and Ukraine drags on for a long time, the United States will be forced to focus on Europe, which will also bring “strategic dividends” to China, Iran, and North Korea. For example, North Korea has no time to take care of North Korea. During the gap, new missiles were tested one after another at an almost record-breaking speed.

But he said that regardless of whether they are in the autocratic or liberal camp, the deeper anxiety of both sides is that once the war between Russia and Ukraine has a winner, its impact may be far higher than that of the two countries fighting against it: if Russia loses the war, other authoritarian axes will be affected. The core country may be further isolated. On the contrary, if Russia destroys Ukraine, a democratic country, it will also give a green light for possible aggression by other authoritarian countries.

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Some analysts believe that concerns about a “world war” are far from groundless.

Shen Mingshi, director of the National Security Institute of the National Defense Security Research Institute in Taipei, said that the United States is now indeed worried that China, Russia, and other countries will collectively put pressure on the United States after forming “Strategic Simultaneity.”

Shen Mingshi said that many scholars have seriously considered that if the prediction comes true, the democratic alliance must also cooperate in order to deal with it. For example, let South Korea be the main force fighting against North Korea; NATO will fight against Russia; and Iran will be handed over to Israel.

Shen Mingshi told the media: “Strategic synchronization means that if these four countries (China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea) simultaneously put pressure on the United States or carry out nuclear threats, what should the United States do? There will be an outbreak in Ukraine, the Taiwan Strait, or any other point. After the conflict, it is indeed possible that it will turn into a world war due to the alliance between China and Russia or the alliance of the axis of evil.”

The key to the “new Cold War” remains the strategic competition between the United States and China

Although the United States has not yet used the “axis of evil” to describe China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, and other countries as former President George W. Bush described North Korea and Iran, Taiwan’s Tamkang University International Affairs and Li Dazhong, director of the Institute of Strategic Studies, believe that the United States has regarded these four countries as a mixture of major challenges and threats in its strategic vision.

Li Dazhong said that the Russo-Ukrainian war has catalyzed the cooperative relationship between China and Russia. Russia has become more and more dependent on Beijing. Facing competition from the United States, Beijing also has a sense of crisis with Russia. Therefore, the intensity of China’s aid to Russia is “up.” Under the principle of “no cap,” it is already very considerable.

Li Da believes that the “new Cold War” is ultimately about the strategic competition between the United States and China. He said that the current international situation is not as clear-cut as during the Cold War, but the “decoupling” of the United States, Britain, and the West from China is already on the horizon.

“It can be seen in many fields that the United States is actually decoupling to a certain extent, using some policies, such as friend-shoring, etc., hoping to allow the United States to take the initiative and advantages as much as possible to suppress Mainland China, especially in the technology field.”

He said that the troublesome thing for the United States is that, unlike the former Soviet Union, China’s layout in various fields such as economy, trade, and investment has penetrated into every corner of the world.

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