Following a video conference between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin, China and Russia issued a joint statement renewing the Treaty of Good Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation between China and Russia. The treaty writes off territorial issues that existed between Russia and China. Some scholars of Russian studies point out that both China and Russia have their own judgments and both want to benefit from cooperation, and that the two countries are showing cooperation to the West, which is more symbolic than practical.
Xi Jinping and Putin held video talks this Monday (28) on the eve of the centennial of the Communist Party’s founding. Later, in a joint statement, the two heads of state announced a formal decision to extend the Russian-Chinese Treaty on Good-Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation for a period of five years. Xi said that the close cooperation between China and Russia has injected positive energy into the international community and set “a model of a new type of international relations”. For his part, Putin said that the Treaty will lay a stronger foundation for the long-term development of Russian-Chinese relations.
Demonstrating to the West that cooperation is a matter of mutual necessity
In an interview with Radio Free Asia on the same day, Taiwan Medical University professor Zhang Guocheng said that the cooperation between Russia and China is in fact a matter of each side getting what it needs.
At present, both China and Russia have their own judgments and both want to benefit from the cooperation, said Zhang Guocheng. Of course it is in each other’s interest for cooperation to continue. China wants to get a stable energy supply from Russia, and Russia cooperates with China to give a signal to the West, but also to benefit from Chinese investments and trade.
According to Zhang Guocheng, a researcher on Russia, Russia is a shortcut for China to get energy from abroad, so China needs Russia.
If China buys oil or gas from the Middle East, it has to go by sea, Zhang said. If it goes by sea, it is vulnerable to threats from the United States or Western countries. But when you buy oil and gas from Russia, you don’t have to worry about being threatened.
Zhang Guocheng said that China and Russia have always been alert to the West, especially to the United States, and the signing of the current treaty of friendship and cooperation between the two sides is a clear signal to the United States.
Zhang said: “At this time, China definitely does not want the United States to have a complete monopoly on relations with Russia. She wants to let Russia know that China can offer Russia many benefits.
U.S.-China-Russia triangle each seeks to break the balance
The background of the Russian-Chinese proximity lies in the fact that in recent months the relations between the United States and China and Russia have hit the bottom. But relations between the two countries are changing after President Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin met not long ago. Public opinion suggests that the U.S. is seeking to draw Russia closer in a bid to further contain China. China, on the other hand, prefers to maintain friendly relations with Russia.
According to Liang Yingbin, a professor at the Department of Diplomacy at National Chengchi University in Taiwan, Russia wants to reflect its importance between the U.S. and China, according to the analysis of the current situation.
The United States now wants to play the Russian card, and China also wants to play the Russian card, said Liang Yingbin. Because now it is a triangle situation, that is, uniting two sides to fight the other side. Of course the U.S. wants to pull Russia to counterbalance China.
Wu Qiang, an independent political commentator in Beijing, believes that the Treaty is a piece of mind for China. However, its symbolic meaning is greater than its practical significance.
What is eagerly sought, says Wu Qiang, is a symbol of stability in Sino-Russian relations. It seems to me that the symbolism is more than the substance. Stable Sino-Russian relations may seem to China to be able to hold back the proximity of the U.S. and Russia, or a disruption of the U.S.-Russia-China triangle if relations between the U.S. and Russia are normalized. So in this sense, the signing of a treaty renewal on the eve of July 1 is crucial for China and for Chinese diplomacy.
One million square kilometers of territory to be written off
The Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation between Russia and China has already written off the territorial issues that existed between the two countries. A joint statement by the two countries said that China and Russia “have completely resolved the historical border issues and have no mutual territorial claims. In a videoconference with Xi, Putin said, “It is important that the two countries determine that they have no territorial claims on each other and are determined to turn their common border into a zone of permanent peace and friendship.”
In 1860, the then Manchu government signed the Qing-Russian Treaty of Beijing with Russia, ceding more than 1 million square kilometers of territory equivalent to dozens of Taiwan to Russia, including the important port of Vladivostok, which Russia later transformed into a major hub city, Vladivostok.
According to a mainland scholar who wishes to remain anonymous, the Chinese Communist Party reminds students in textbooks that they must not make any concessions on the issue of national and territorial sovereignty, but they themselves ceded this land to Russia in the Protocol between the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the Government of the Russian Federation on the Narrative of the East and West Sections of the Russian-Chinese Boundary, signed in 1999. The sea access to the Sea of Japan in northeastern China was blocked.