Commentary: US must be troubled by stronger Russia-China ties

SINGAPORE: In 1972, President Richard Nixon upset the geopolitical apple cart by embarking on a visit to China.His visit paved the way for a normalisation of relations and set the stage for US-China cooperation against the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War. Today, President Joe Biden has made competing with China “to win the 21st century,” the US’ top foreign policy priority. Given current tensions in US-China relations, could the US engage Russia as a hedge against China, and once again play the “Nixon card,” this time against China? PEELING RUSSIA AWAY FROM CHINA The idea of prying Russia away to counter-balance China’s growing strength sounds plausible in theory. Russia and China share an uneasy history, Russia having been one of the European powers which sought to carve-up China in the 19th century. While they were linked by a common communist ideology, nationalism mixed with ideological differences led to a short but brutal a border war in 1969, followed by mutual suspicion and hostility which ended with the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991. Russia is said to fear and resent a stronger China today. It is also believed to suspiciously eye China’s growing economic strength in Central Asia, its historic sphere of influence. In the Arctic, increased Chinese geo-economic interest could collide with Russia’s desire to remain a leading power in the mineral-rich and strategic region.

Commentary: US must be troubled by stronger Russia-China ties

SINGAPORE: In 1972, President Richard Nixon upset the geopolitical apple cart by embarking on a visit to China.

His visit paved the way for a normalisation of relations and set the stage for US-China cooperation against the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War.

Today, President Joe Biden has made competing with China “to win the 21st century,” the US’ top foreign policy priority.

Given current tensions in US-China relations, could the US engage Russia as a hedge against China, and once again play the “Nixon card,” this time against China?

PEELING RUSSIA AWAY FROM CHINA

The idea of prying Russia away to counter-balance China’s growing strength sounds plausible in theory. Russia and China share an uneasy history, Russia having been one of the European powers which sought to carve-up China in the 19th century.

While they were linked by a common communist ideology, nationalism mixed with ideological differences led to a short but brutal a border war in 1969, followed by mutual suspicion and hostility which ended with the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991.

Russia is said to fear and resent a stronger China today. It is also believed to suspiciously eye China’s growing economic strength in Central Asia, its historic sphere of influence.

In the Arctic, increased Chinese geo-economic interest could collide with Russia’s desire to remain a leading power in the mineral-rich and strategic region.