Any — exceptionalist — wishful thinking that Russia and China will abandon their solid “win-win” strategic partnership, fully crafted to their mutual national interests, was dispelled by a crucial visit to Moscow by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
In Moscow, Wang stressed both Russia’s Look East policy and China’s Go West — which essentially encompass the massive New Silk Road(s) project — “have created historic opportunities for docking the two countries’ development strategies.”
And fully “docked” they are. Russia’s Look East strategy is not only about China. It’s as much about Eurasian integration as China’s New Silk Roads — as Moscow needs Asia-Pacific to develop Eastern Siberia and the Russian Far East.
The always-evolving strategic partnership is not only about energy — including the possibility of Chinese-controlled stakes in crucial Russian oil and gas projects — as well as the defense industry; it’s increasingly about investment, banking, finance and high technology.
The partnership’s reach is extremely wide, from Russia-China cooperation within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to the Russia-China stake in the new BRICS development bank, and to Russian support to the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the Silk Road Foundation.
Beijing and Moscow, along with the other BRICS nations, are fast moving to trade independently of the US dollar, using their own currencies. In parallel, they are studying the creation of an alternative SWIFT system — which will necessarily be joined by EU nations, as they are joining the AIIB. For instance, in theory Germany might afford to lose its trade with Russia because of Berlin’s politics — much to the dissatisfaction of German industrialists. Yet Germany simply cannot afford not to buy Russian energy. And for Germany to lose trade with China is beyond unthinkable.
The Trans-Siberian on steroids