No Confidence in Cooperation with Beijing Russian Voices Emerge Questioning Criticism of Russia-China Relations

The direction of Russia’s relations with China has come under scrutiny following the U.S.-Russia summit in Geneva. Among the many discussions around Russia-China relations in Russia, many voices question the prospects for cooperation with China, and many remain concerned about the Chinese threat.

Russian-US Interaction Beijing Doubts

Following the conclusion of the U.S.-Russia summit in Geneva, many Russian strategic analysts continue to assess the impact of the summit. A just-published article in Russia in Global Politics, a magazine with an official background and a focus on international affairs, says that the world, especially the respective allies of the United States and Russia, especially European countries and China, are paying close attention to the agreements reached at the summit.

Beijing has traditionally been suspicious of Moscow’s interaction with Washington, fearing that Russia and the United States could create conspiracies behind Beijing’s back, the article said. Among many Chinese scholars, there is even a belief that Moscow is getting closer to Beijing only to consolidate its position when it fights the West, and that Russia will quickly fall to the other side once the West can offer more favorable terms.

The article says that in today’s international political relations, there can be no such development in the situation. For Russia, strengthening ties with China is the obvious thing to do, and never a trump card in some geopolitical game. But nevertheless, the views mentioned above are quite marketable both among hawkish nationalists in China and among pro-Western analysts of international affairs.

The article says that within the framework of the strategic partnership between the two countries, Russia will inform China about some of the information from the Geneva summit. But to strengthen China’s trust, Russia could do more, such as trying to invite China to observe as an observer some public negotiations on Russian-US arms issues.

Warning about the Chinese threat Calls for observing the U.S.-China fight with each other

The Russian weekly “Arguments and Arguments” published an article on the day of the Geneva summit discussing the summit, Russian-Chinese relations and Russian foreign policy. The article was written by Khosgikov, then Yeltsin’s press secretary and a leading Kremlin staffer in the 1990s.

According to the article, China is not only expanding its influence around the world to challenge the United States, but is also very active in the former Soviet Union. Chinese companies now control a quarter of the oil extraction in Kazakhstan. China has offered Turkmenistan huge loans in exchange for priority rights to extract natural gas in the former Soviet state. Many Russian scholars thus warn of a possible future conflict of interests between Russia and China in Central Asia. Kazakhstan, which shares a border with China, is also concerned about the expansion of Chinese influence. The sparsely populated Russian Far East is also under threat from China.

The article says that the arguments for strengthening relations with China and praising Russia-China friendship are currently dominating Russian public opinion. Objective analysis of the Chinese threat is almost impossible to find in the Russian media today. The voices of Russia’s degeneration into Beijing’s little brother are also very weak.

Kosgikov suggests that the most favorable position for Moscow is to watch the U.S.-China fight with each other, never to take sides in the Washington-Beijing encounter, and to participate equally in the U.S.-China-Europe-Russia quadrangle of interaction.

Kosgikov is considered a pro-Western liberal, and it is not surprising that Russian academics, experts and analysts from this camp warn of the risks Russia faces by getting closer to China, as similar voices are often heard in Russia.

China is not a friend and not an ally

But from a completely different camp, the pro-Putin, anti-Western nationalist camp in Russia, there are also voices warning of Chinese threats and resentment of Russia and China getting too close.

In a long article published on June 6, on the eve of the Geneva summit, the conservative online media “Federal News Agency” said that Russia and China are neither friends nor allies, but only partners. According to the article, China interacts with Russia because of the benefits of the current relations between the two countries. Once this relationship is perceived by China as unfavorable, China will become Russia’s adversary. No factors have triggered this situation yet, but no one knows what the future holds.

Even today, when relations between the two countries are warming up, China is still reluctant to recognize Crimea as belonging to Russia, the article says. The article says that the Chinese dragon is currently well fed and appears friendly and likable, but once it starts to get hungry, it will eat people.

The article quotes a Russian political analyst who has lived in Beijing as saying that the threat from China should be taken seriously. In particular, Chinese society still sees some parts of the Far East as its historical homeland, and China will not stand idly by should Russia weaken again, as it did in the early 1990s.

The article also mentions that last year when the 160th anniversary of the founding of Vladivostok (Vladivostok), the main city in the Far East, was celebrated, the Russian Embassy in Beijing issued a text saying that Vladivostok was a Russian city, which subsequently sparked outrage in Chinese society.

Russia, China, Africa in dark tug of war, pro-Putin plutocratic media criticize Beijing intriguingly

“Federal News Agency is the main media outlet controlled by the very influential Russian plutocrat, Prigozhin, who is known as Putin’s chef. Both Prigoren and the media outlet are now on the sanctions list of the United States and the West.

Prigoren’s online quisling water army is believed to have interfered in the U.S. presidential election in 2016. Prigoren is also accused of having attacked Russian intellectuals and opposition figures critical of Putin, as well as bloggers, among others.

Many media outlets have also reported that Prigozhin’s private armed forces are active in Syria, Libya and Africa, among other places. But these private armies are actually under the command and control of Russian military intelligence, and they engage in activities that Russian officials are not comfortable engaging in publicly.

In a move considered unusual, the media controlled by the pro-Putin plutocracy with such a background issued an article criticizing Russia-China relations on the eve of the Geneva summit, while warning of the Chinese threat. Russian political scientist Bercovsky said in a commentary program he hosts that it shows that there are different positions in Russia on how to deal with China.

Belkovsky argued that Plutocrat Prigoren may know more about the Chinese threat than anyone else. This is because Prigoren’s activities in Africa under the Kremlin’s directive to implement many projects have created a conflict of interests between Russia and China in Africa that is completely under the table. Because of this, there should be no illusions that Russia and China will have a serious strategic partnership. That is why it is all the more important for Russia to remain neutral when the U.S. and China are at war.

Feeling unequal with Beijing, polls show that China is still a friendly country

Russian current affairs commentator Nikolsky said that often Russian people complain about many upsetting and unpleasant incidents when cooperating with China. One of the examples is the cooperation between the media of both sides, where propaganda articles written by China on topics such as Xinjiang often appear in the Russian media. Russia, on the other hand, is unable to publish in the Chinese media propaganda articles about Crimea and how the life of the local population, especially Crimean Tatars, has changed for the better after Russia’s annexation of the peninsula. Nikolsky said that Russia’s requests in this regard have been rejected by China.

Many of my sources have told me that there is no way to convince China in this regard,” Nikolsky said. That’s why I find the timing of many of the statements of discontent with China intriguing. Many Russian voices of discontent against China are careful to remind Beijing that much of the cooperation with China is not equal and that China increasingly wants to dominate it.”

A recent report published by the Levada Center, Russia’s leading pollster, said the Russian public still sees China as the most friendly country after Belarus. Although the percentage of respondents holding this position has decreased slightly this year, the percentage of people who see China as a friendly country has remained relatively stable over the last seven years.