China and Russia have announced that their militaries will be working much more closely together in order to “counter US influence in the Asia-Pacific region”, the Financial Times reports:
During a visit to Beijing where he met his Chinese counterpart and Premier Li Keqiang, Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu said the two sides “expressed our concern with the US attempts to reinforce its military political influence in the Asia-Pacific region”, Chinese and Russian state media reported.“Our co-operation in the military spheres has great potential and the Russian side is ready to develop it across the broadest possible spectrum of areas,” Mr Shoigu added. “We see the formation of a collective regional security system as the primary objective of our joint efforts.”The two sides agreed to hold joint naval exercises, their fourth in recent years, in the Mediterranean next spring, to be followed by further exercises in the Pacific.
This doesn’t herald anything like the kind of Sino-Soviet cooperation that existed for about a decade in the late ’40s and early ’50s. Neither Russia nor China trusts the other at all, but both feel the pressure of U.S. power and Western ideas, and both are looking to preserve their domestic status quo in a world in which those pesky democratic ideas just won’t go away.And, by the way, it’s interesting that fear of a country that is supposedly in terminal decline, whose great power days are over, continues to drive Chinese and Russian foreign policy. The U.S. and its network of allies and fellow travelers remains by far the strongest force on the planet, and the desire of ordinary people around the world to control their own lives remains an immense strategic asset.Sometimes we in the U.S. forget just how strong a hand we’ve been dealt. Moscow and Beijing sometimes understand better than we do how powerful the historical forces underpinning American power really are—and, if this announcement is any sign, both are worried.America’s job isn’t, however, to engage in chest-thumping and strutting on the world stage, and we need to remember both the real limits on our power and the need for wisdom and prudence in exercising it. But working steadily and quietly to build a better world, to strengthen the bonds of international cooperation, trade and peace, to maintain our military strength to defend ourselves and our allies, and to give a helping hand to those who want to build better lives for themselves and their kids is the best way to gradually and steadily lay the foundations for a world that will be safer and more free.