China Tightens Bonds with Russia, India
In the last two weeks, China has actively solidified economic, political and military ties with both Russia and India – two of its five partners in the BRICS coalition which also includes Brazil and South Africa. All five are considered to be “newly developing” countries economically.
The recent increases in solidarity with Moscow and New Delhi also push forward President Xi Jinping’s vision for his new Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, establishing modern land and sea trade routes linking Asia, eastern Europe and Africa. The two projects have become simply known as “One Road, One Belt”.
Russia borders China to the north, India borders Xi’s nation to the south. The three countries total 39% of the world’s population. Their growing cooperation represents a strong counter to the United States’ aggressive efforts to control the world’s economy and energy resources, particularly in Eurasia.
China over the last couple of decades has moved into competition with the U.S. for becoming the global economic leader. It’s done this with heavy industrialization and aggressive exporting. It’s brought great economic gain, but has caused grave domestic pollution problems, primarily with air and water. Xi’s administration is altering that approach now, looking to clean up pollution and create the “New Normal,” a national policy concentrating on farming and production of goods to sell at home to China’s 1.35 billion citizens, which includes a growing middle class.
Xi’s domestic efforts also include legal, human rights, and corporate reform. But he’s also keeping a strong hand over dissent and Internet freedom. And he has been particularly visible in traveling globally, pushing on every continent to stress China’s policy of noninterference in other countries’ political affairs, while also making trade alliances and offering financial support for helping countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America build infrastructure – a sharp contrast to the U.S. foreign policy of aggressive military actions and surveillance in other countries. He’s pointed in speeches to this contrast between China’s cooperation and America’s “hegemony”.
The visit by China’s leader over the last biweek to Russia, and hosting India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi continue Xi’s efforts at pushing for a new Asia that will lead the world in the 21st Century, a mission both he and Modi have said they share.
Xi spent May 8-10 in Russia, starting with standing next to Putin at Moscow’s military parade commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. He brought with him China’s honor guard, which marched in the parade for the first time in history. He helped decorate war veterans, while Russia and China had also recently held joint military drills.
Putin and Xi’s meetings also included public statements of their nations’ mutual support, and cover a broad spectrum. According to a news report from Germany’s international broadcaster Deutsche Welle:
During Xi’s latest trip to Russia, experts say, a joint statement is expected to be inked on strengthening the China-Russia partnership and advocating cooperation. According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, the two nations will also sign a number of cooperative documents in areas including energy, aerospace, taxation, finance and investment.
Reports also said that Putin and Xi’s meetings led to rail and port projects. According to Reuters:
China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) said it had agreed with Russian firm Tuva Energy Industrial Corporation LLC (TEIC) to consult on and help source funds from Chinese institutions for projects including a 410 km (255 miles) track across the central southern part of Russia from Elegest to Kuragin.
The other projects comprise a railway line connecting the Tuvan Republic, in the same area of Russia, to western China, and a port project in eastern Russia.
Xi’s trip to Russia broadens his and Putin’s relationship, strengthened over the last couple of years by major agreements of Russia to supply China with oil and natural gas, and Xi’s statement earlier this year that China would financially support Russia if American and European sanctions over Ukraine began to deeply hurt Moscow. Russia seems to have ridden through the worst from the sanctions, so far.
Modi Comes to China
India’s prime minister came to China last week for cooperative talks and the signing of $22 billion in investment and trade agreements, and to find ways to help reduce India’s $48 billion trade deficit. He also wanted to discuss concerns about China’s activities in the South China Sea, and its recent investment of $46 billion in power generation and other projects with India’s arch rival Pakistan.
China also had its own list of wants and concerns regarding India. The Associated Press notes:
China is looking to India as a market for its increasingly high-tech goods, from high-speed trains to nuclear power plants, while India is keen to attract Chinese investment in manufacturing and infrastructure. With a slowing economy, excess production capacity and nearly $4 trillion in foreign currency reserves, China is ready to satisfy India’s estimated $1 trillion in demand for infrastructure projects such as airports, roads, ports and railways…
Beijing is also concerned about India’s improving relations with Japan and the U.S. — China’s chief rivals for influence in Asia. Xi’s desire to build a strong personal bond with Modi can be seen as an attempt to ensure China ranks high in his affections and improve coordination on regional and international issues.
Modi’s visit is a continuum of India-China cooperation expanding from Xi’s visit to India which led to $20 billion of Chinese investment into India trade and infrastructure.
India is also a major player in the BRICS New Development Bank, to be based in Shanghai and directed by an Indian banker. In March, Putin signed a bill through which Russia ratified that bank agreement. We wrote about the formation of the BRICS controversial investment efforts last year for The Clyde Fitch Report.
India is also involved, along with leading European nations, with China’s new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which we wrote about here. Modi also made clear to Putin last year that Russia would remain India’s chief defense supplier.