Generations of geostrategists have speculated about the possibility for an alliance between Russia and China. If those two powers got together, they speculated, they could dominate Eurasia and therefore the world.For a few years after Mao’s revolution, it looked as if that was happening, and it was this strategic nightmare that shaped a lot of American thinking (and panic) in the early years of the Cold War. But conflicting interests soon pulled the two biggest communist countries apart, to the point where Soviets used to joke to their American counterparts towards the end of the Cold War, explaining Soviet paranoia by saying, “But you have to remember, we have reasons to be worried. Just think how you would feel in our place. The Soviet Union is entirely surrounded by hostile communist states!”Since the collapse of the USSR, there have been periodic efforts to gin up the old alliance, with international organizations and secretariats springing up. Yesterday’s UN veto of the Syrian resolution at the Security Council shows that the two countries are perfectly capable of cooperating when their interests are aligned.But the idea of a Moscow/Beijing axis remains more theoretical than real, and this BBC story reminds us that two land powers lying side by side have a hard time developing a durable alliance.
A Chinese man faces a charge in Russia of attempted spying for allegedly trying to gain details of a missile system through bribery.The man, identified as Tun Sheniyun, was arrested in Moscow on 28 October last year but his arrest was kept secret until now.He allegedly sought technological and repair documentation on the Soviet-era S300 surface-to-air system.
There is not much trust between Russia and China today. Russia fears China’s growing economic and technological prowess and fears that China will successfully replace Russia as the major power in formerly Soviet Central Asia. China tends not to have a lot of respect for the former superpower to its north.The Eurasian axis looks as wobbly as ever; this is good news for any English speaking maritime offshore balancers thinking about the geopolitics of Asia in the 21st century.