The new Chinese President Xi Jinping has wasted little time in conducting his own pivot - to Russia - in response to the much heralded American turn towards Asia. Geopolitically, the new Chinese-Russian entente harkens to the World Island of Sir Halford McKinder, which would dominate the world because of its location and command of the world's resources.
And which would more than offset the power of the outer or "insular" crescent stretching from Japan to the United States. Both geography and politics have
dictated Xi's visit to Moscow, among the many agreements signed are
those relating to China accessing the huge energy resources of Russia as
well as those linked to arms transfers.
politics, too, are quite easy to discern. China has deep economic
linkages with the United States. But it also perceives itself to be a
political rival of the Americans.
for Russia, under Vladimir Putin it has become more nationalistic and
assertive abroad. It has clashed with the US on the issue of Georgia, on
American ballistic missile defence systems in Europe, and on Syria and
Expectations of a
"reset" in the presidency of Vladimir Medvedev have been belied, and
his successor Putin harbours a deep suspicion of the US.
Last week, at the onset of Xi's visit to Moscow, ITAR-Tass news agency
quoted Putin as saying that the relations between the two countries were
helping to "shape a new, more just world order" and that Russia and
China had shown a "balanced and pragmatic approach" to international
crises, presumably in their opposition to the positions of the US and
the west on Syria and Iran.
Xi, in turn, responded that he expected Russia to "strengthen
coordination and interaction in tackling international and regional
issues to ensure our common strategic security."
also underscored these remarks in a major speech at the Moscow
Institute for International Relations, where he spelt out the current
Chinese world view: "It will be impossible for any single country or
country bloc to dominate international affairs".
practical terms, China has worked out a series of energy agreements,
which involve the doubling of oil supplies and the construction of a
natural gas pipeline from Russia.
Additionally, there were agreements on developing Russian coal resources for the benefit of the Chinese.
supplies will not only boost China's economy, but also its energy
security, since the supply chains will avoid the maritime choke-points
dominated by the United States and its allies.
significant have been the two important arms sales agreements between
the two countries - the first to purchase 24 Su-35 fighters and the
second for 4 Lada class submarines - the first significant deals in a
These deals have
been in the making for the past six months and were signed on the eve of
Xi's visit. But their announcement since then signifies a new turn in
their arms transfer relationship.
the 1950s, the Soviet Union supplied China the bulk of its military
technology, but this ceased in the 1960s, and the Chinese subsequently
reverse engineered many Soviet designs.
In the 1990s, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, a broke Russian arms industry offered China its cutting edge systems.
Till 2001, 90 per cent of Chinese
arms imports came from Russia. These included Tor M1 mobile air defence
missiles, Mi-17 helicopters, Su-27 fighters, Sovremenny destroyers,
S-300 SAMs, Kilo class submarines and so on.
many instances, the Russians also transferred the technology of
manufacture to the Chinese, who also acquired ex-Soviet systems from
ex-Soviet countries like Ukraine.
there was a ten year hiatus in which the Russians stopped selling
cutting edge systems to the Chinese because they were angered by the
Chinese cloning their systems, as well as the fear that the Chinese
could pose a military threat to a weakened Russia.
now seems to have calculated that China does not pose an immediate
threat, that it seems to be focused on the East and South China sea for
the near future.
money will help keep the Russian military industrial complex going, and
Russia derives additional leverage with the West by opening up to the
Chinese-Russian entente should certainly set alarm bells ringing in New
Delhi. As a news report by SPS Pannu in Mail Today earlier this week
pointed out, India is the loser in the growing China-Russia energy ties.
New Delhi could also lose out in the emerging Russian-Chinese arms
far, India has held the technological edge in terms of the quality of
its fighter aircraft. The SU-35 will begin to tilt the balance against
us, unless we pay for the expensive upgrade of the SU-30MKI or begin
receiving the Russian fifth generation fighters in significant numbers.
Chinese-Russian entente could also mean that there could be an
agreement for the supply of Russian engines for Chinese-designed and
built fighters which would make them much more capable than they are at
The Indian subcontinent would seem to be an outlier when it comes to the geopolitics of Eurasia.
so, New Delhi needs to get its act together in formulating and
executing its foreign and security policies for what is clearly a period
of great change.
and foremost, we need to shore up our relations with out neighbours
where Beijing seems to be able to operate with great ease.
Then, we need to fix the new problem of our diverse states noisily undermining New Delhi's policies.
the United States and Japan offer India strategic openings to offset
China's power in conjunction with a host of South-east Asian countries,
who are wary of China's assertiveness.
their past relations the longevity of the Sino-Russian entente, too, is
moot. Clearly, India is not entirely without options in this
geopolitical competition, the only problem is to get New Delhi to play
Mail Today April 1, 2013