IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis

China-Russia ties as a major determinant

20th August, 2020 Editorial

Context: A proper analysis of the partnership between Beijing and Moscow is critical to India’s foreign policy calculus.


  • Chinese President Xi Jinping had described Russian President Vladimir Putin, as “my best friend and colleague”.
  • At no time since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 has such public bonhomie been seen between leaders of Russia and China. It has sparked intense discussion on whether they are moving in the direction of a formal alliance, and what that could mean for the rest of the world.

The key triangle:

  • The triangular relationship between America, China and Russia has, for the most part, shaped global politics since 1950.
  • India is not a part of this triangle; yet they represent our three most consequential relationships. Hence, a proper appraisal of the Sino-Russian relationship will be critical to our foreign policy calculus.

Columns of the partnership:

  • The three pillars on which the Sino-Russian partnership currently rests are a peaceful boundary, expanding trade and a shared distrust of American intentions.
  • Western sanctions have tended to push the Russians closer to China. Falling oil prices and fears of new sanctions on Russian gas supplies (Nord Stream 2) are demolishing the core of Russian exports to Europe, thus compelling them to depend to an even greater degree on the Chinese.
  • After the western sanctions, China-Russia trade has more than doubled to $108 billion, Russia’s central bank has increased its Chinese currency reserves from less than one per cent to over 13%.

China’s rise, Russia’s unease:

  • The three pillars on which the relationship stands are not as sturdy as they may seem. Take, for example, the fact of their peaceful border. Mr. Xi’s talk of “rejuvenation of the Chinese Nation” has raised fears about Chinese revanchism.
  • As for the economic pillar, while Russia presently enjoys a nominal trade surplus, going beyond gross trade to value-added trade, China has a clear advantage going forward.

India and Russia ties:

  • A strategic partnership with Russia based on the absence of fundamental conflicts of interest and a shared belief that some form of multipolarity is better than any sort of Sino-U.S. condominium, is important for India, and this relationship deserves more attention from both sides.
  • In the words of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in Moscow on September 20, 1982, “the garden of friendship like all gardens must be consistently tended”.


  • The new reality of Sino-Russian relations is thus one where substantial expansion of bilateral cooperation is accompanied by growing asymmetry and China’s pre-eminence, including in Russian ‘backyards’ such as Central Asia and the Arctic regions. Moscow is in real danger of permanently becoming the ‘junior partner’.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/china-russia-ties-as-a-major-determinant/article32397585.ece