mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Russia-China Relations
China and Russia Team Up to Practice Amphibious Assaults

These days, there’s something unsettling about hearing the phrase ‘amphibious assault’ in the same sentence as ‘Russia.’ And given the news from the South China Sea, you really don’t want ‘China’ added to that mix. But here we are. On July 20th, the Diplomat ran an article titled “China and Russia to Stage Amphibious Assault Exercise in Sea of Japan”:

“Representatives of the headquarters of the Russian Pacific Fleet and the Navy of the People’s Liberation Army of China have carried out major work for the planning of the Chinese warships’ visit to Vladivostok port, the cultural program, sports competitions and all the tactical events of the sea, land, and air parts of the maneuvers,” [Russian Pacific Fleet spokesman Roman] Martov noted. […]

The 20 warships and support vessels from both navies will also be joined by carrier-based aircraft, Martov told TASS. Russia’s Pacific Fleet consists of around 70 vessels including four landing ships and five landing crafts. China is currently in the process of expanding its fleet of amphibious warfare ships with the construction and gradual induction of six new Type-071 Yuzhao-class vessels. […]

The exercise will take place in the Sea of Japan and off the coast of Russia’s Primorsky territory –  approximately 250 miles away from Japan — and include for the first time a joint amphibious assault drill.

Because they combine everyone’s biggest worry about Russia (invasions) and everyone’s biggest fears about China (disputed-island-based use of military force), the drills will be taken as a seriously provocative move by, well, everyone—but especially by Japan. Their location will only deepen tensions: A territorial dispute over the remote Kuril Islands, northeast of Hokkaido, has kept Japan and Russia from signing a formal peace treaty ending World War II.

Moreover, many fear that as China gets richer and more powerful, it will team up with Russia to change the tide of history and to undo the reigning world order. These fears are overblown. The best evidence for the emergence of real warmth between Russia and China—a $400 billion gas deal signed late in 2014—is probably best interpreted as an opportunistic play by an energy-hungry Beijing to take advantage of its oil-rich neighbor at a vulnerable moment. As Lilia Shevtsova has argued in our pages, Russia has more to fear from its relationship with China than the West has to fear from the two countries’ coming together.

But just because some exaggerate the dangers of the Russia-China relationship doesn’t mean these drills are unimportant. It is a genuine problem if Russia gains the ability to mount amphibious assaults, given its penchant for invasions. That’s why we saw such brouhaha over France’s prospective delivery of the Mistral-class warships. And given Beijing’s greedy claims to rightful ownership in the South China Sea, the country’s naval power and prowess is a matter of serious concern for anyone who cares about the future of world order.

Features Icon
show comments
  • Dhako


    I see you still peddling that discredited idea of Russia and China being an enemy of each other than they are to US. And, for good measure you decided to use an alibi a clearly bias argument from someone with an axe to grind. Hence, you desperate hope of thinking that the recently concluded Russia-CHINA deal on Gas, is nothing but opportunistic feat on the part of China at the expense of Russia on the long term. Pity, really, for that seems to sum up the desperate gambit western’s geopolitical theoretician are pining their hope on, since, Russia and China gives every indications that whatever differences they have with each other (and it’s a bore details in the greater scheme of things) they standing differences in each of them has with the West, and with the US, far outweigh anything they could quibble against each other. But, then, again, I do believe you know this in your bones, but, that fictitious differences that was allegedly said to exit between Russia and China, seems to be all there is for the west to make it out of it as if it’s a mountain, even, if truth, it’s nothing more than a mole-hill, indeed.

    As for the this joint military exercise of the Naval kind, perhaps, you will like to recall, there was one in recent months in the Mediterranean and that also involved a teeming of the two navies. And, now, of course, one in the sea of Japan. Of course, you could blind yourself in saying it means nothing, but, that is, I am afraid, a desperate hope on your part fathering the thought. Hence, it deserves to be consider nothing more than the argument of a man clutching at straws particularly when faced with the idea that says, Russia and China, may, have, finally, broke the mold, or at least decided to reform the geopolitical order of the world by effectively deciding to play in tandem. And, lastly, how you do know, these two powers are in SCO together, they also are in the Brics developmental bank that was inaugurated in Shanghai, so, if anything, I would argue that the both geopolitical and geo-economical cards of these two nations are exceedingly coalescing with one another. But, of course, Walter, you are entitled to believe that there is nothing to unite two nations at all. And, we shall see as to who shall be the poorer for it, indeed.

    • JR

      You obviously have very little idea just how xenophobic Russians are. But your condescending attitude is really funny. Keep on writing to “Walter”.

      • Dhako

        Well, apart from you being a self-hiring lawyer for the defense of Walter, one wonders whether you have anything larger to contribute in here. Ah, I see you think that Russians are xenophobes, which preclude in your mind the mere possibility of Russia and China working together.

        But, I suppose (to be charitable in here), you could make a case – a desperate one, no less – about that possibility. However, what is rather closer to the mark is the fact that whatever acid feeling the average Muscovite has for his counter-part in Beijing, the reality that matter in which we are talking about in here is that of elite’s politics, which is the core definition of how geopolitical engagement between nations – small and large – do get carried out across the globe.

        Hence, if I may say so, it’s rather obtuse on your part to conflate two separate and easily recognizable phenomenon from each other. Subsequently, the short of it all, is to say, Presidents Putin and Xi (like most competent leaders around the world), are unlike to be the sort of folks who will base their “strategical re-alignment” with one another on the baser feelings of their average hoi-polloi.

        And, subsequently, that you missed this strategical boat so comprehensively simply tells me, that perhaps, it’s you who really deserve a bit more of a bone-crashing condescending attitude in here rather that Walter. And that should be so in the hope that you may realize that far be it for others not to know what they are talking about as you alleged, but, in fact, it’s you whose little knowledge of these things seems to be taking out of his depth.

        Best wishes and no hard feelings.

        • JR

          I guess you missed the “Brevity is the soul of wit” part of your education. I also think you GREATLY over-estimate the importance other people place on your opinions, whether it be of them, or any other topic. But feel free to write another long essay. You are no Dan Greene, but I guess you’ll have to do while he is gone.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service