- Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin
As Chinese President Xi Jinping prepares to host the annual G20 summit, it’s no secret that Russian President Vladimir Putin will be the top guest.
Come September 4, leaders of the world’s biggest economies will gather in Hangzhou, China, to discuss business, trade, and a range of foreign-policy challenges.
“Russia and China now cooperate and coordinate to an unprecedented degree – politically, militarily, economically – and their cooperation carries anti-American and anti-Western ramifications,” authors Douglas Schoen and Melik Kaylan wrote in “The Russia-China Axis.”
“In short, there is a new Cold War in progress, with our old adversaries back in the game, more powerful than they have been for decades, and with America more confused and tentative than it has been since the Carter years.”
Here’s a look at a few ways the Russia-China axis operates against American and Western interests.
1. Supporting rogue regimes economically and militarily
- KCNA/via Reuters
China and Russia continue to provide military and economic aid to rogue regimes like North Korea, Iran, and Syria.
“China has kept the deranged North Korean regime afloat for years with economic aid and enabled Pyongyang’s nuclear pursuits by its refusal to enforce UN sanctions,” authors Douglas Schoen and Melik Kaylan wrote in “The Russia-China Axis.”
As Pyongyang’s closest ally, China is opposed to the bilateral decision between the US and South Korea to deploy America’s most advanced missile-defense system to the Korean Peninsula.
A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery is slated to be operational in South Korea by the end of 2017 in order to counter increasingly aggressive threats from the North.
China argues that since Washington agreed to equip Seoul with the unique missile-defense system, the North’s missile tests have expanded and are poised to increase.
So far this year, the Hermit Kingdom has conducted a little more than 13 rounds of ballistic-missile tests and has fired 29 various rockets, according to South Korea’s UN ambassador.
Chinese Ambassador Qiu Guohong warned that deploying THAAD would irreparably damage relations between the countries, The Chosunilbo reported.
THAAD deployment, Qiu said, “would break the strategic balance in the region and create a vicious cycle of Cold War-style confrontations and an arms race, which could escalate tensions.”
During a discussion at the Brookings Institution on identifying emerging security threats, CIA Director John Brennan said that the deployment of THAAD to the region was one of the US’s “obligations” in the region.
“Clearly Kim Jong Un continues to go down a road that is exceptionally irresponsible as far as regional and global security, with his development of nuclear weapons as well as ballistic missiles,” Brennan told Business Insider in a question-and-answer session.
“We have certain obligations to our partners and the region so that the appropriate steps are taken to reassure our friends, partners, and allies of US commitment to the security of that area.”
During a Hudson Institute discussion on US missile-technology preeminence, US Army Gen. Charles Jacoby, former commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), was in agreement and stressed the importance of deploying THAAD, despite it upsetting near peers like Russia and China.
“Certainly the Russians and the Chinese and other stakeholders understand that in South Korea besides being a wonderful ally, significant economic engine for growth throughout the world, that there are tens of thousands of American citizens living there, there is still US forces there, they are playing a defense role and they are at risk everyday to a host of threats that now include the potential for ballistic-missile-carried weapons of mass destruction,” Gen. Jacoby said.
“We cannot not act.”
Meanwhile, the rogue regime continues to conduct defiant ballistic-missile tests.
The most recent test occurred at the end of August, when the North fired what was believed to be a KN-11 missile from a submarine.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin has acted as Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s biggest ally by “showering his regime with weapons systems, bases, and funding,” Kaylan and Schoen wrote.
“Since then the examples have mounted to include joint support for Assad who deliberately fostered ISIS to squeeze the moderate opposition in Syria and Russia went on to bomb them while virtually ignoring ISIS,” Kaylan told Business Insider.
According to a new report from a UN-sanctioned human-rights group, Russian airstrikes have killed more Syrian civilians than ISIS.
The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) report finds that over a span of 305 days, beginning September 30, 2015, and lasting until July 31, 2016, Russia’s strikes in Syria have “killed no less than 2,704 civilians including 746 children and 514 women.”
By contrast, since ISIS emerged on April 9, 2013, the extremist terror group is responsible for the deaths of “no less than 2,686 civilians including 368 children.”
Further, the relationship Russia and China foster with Iran is “pivotal.”
“Iran acts as a bottle-neck for all Central Asian raw materials reaching the outer world. If Tehran plays along with Moscow and Beijing, it stands to share in the spoils of dominating both regions,” Kaylan told Business Insider.
2. Massive military buildups
Both Russia and China have increased their defense-spending budgets in order to upgrade and acquire military hardware.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has steadily consolidated the world’s largest military, coupled with roughly $356 billion in military-spending power.
Russia’s defense budget will be cut by 5% in 2016, Russian Deputy Defence Minister Tatiana Shevtsova said, according to the RIA news agency.
Adding to this, they often collaborate and supply each other.
“The coordinated military buildup serves a global strategy to overstretch Western resources worldwide,” Kaylan told Business Insider. “Witness Chinese submarine proliferation in the South China Sea and Moscow’s supply of defensive missiles around Iranian nuclear plants.”
3. Hostile action to consolidate and expand territorial claims in their spheres
- REUTERS/China Daily
Despite last month’s historic legal decision rejecting China’s nine-dash line in the resource-rich waters of the South China Sea, Beijing continues to dig in its heels over its claims.
On July 12, the Permanent Court of Arbitration issued a 500-page unanimous ruling in Republic of Philippines v. People’s Republic of China, a case brought by the Philippines in 2013.
The court found that Beijing had violated the Philippines’ economic and sovereign rights and concluded there was no legal basis for China’s nine-dash line, which encompasses approximately 85% of the South China Sea.
With rival territorial claims by Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, the Philippines, Taiwan, and China, the South China Sea – rich in natural resources and crisscrossed by shipping routes – is one of the most militarized areas on the planet.
However, Beijing has maintained that the Hague-based court ruling has no bearing on its rights in the South China Sea.
What’s more, Chinese construction in these waters isn’t quite over.
Nearly a month after the Hague-based court’s decision, new satellite images published by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), a unit of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, showed significant preparations are underway for Chinese military aircraft.
“China is building hangar space for 24 fighter jets and three to four larger military planes at each of its three largest artificial islands,” Gregory Poling, director of AMTI, told Business Insider in a previous interview.
“The number, size, and construction make it clear these are for military purposes – and they are the smoking gun that shows China has every intention of militarizing the Spratly Islands.”
Currently the US, with the world’s largest navy, dominates the region; however, that is poised to change as Beijing dramatically expands its naval capabilities.
“At some point, China is likely to, in effect, be able to deny the US Navy unimpeded access to parts of the South China Sea,” writes Robert Kaplan, senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security and author of “Asia’s Cauldron.”
And while the US continues to press China on a diplomatic process in the South China Sea, Beijing continues to expand its influence in other parts of the world.
- REUTERS/Baz Ratner
During a UN Security Council resolution vote, while Russia vetoed, China abstained from voting on declaring the Crimea referendum invalid.
Similar to the East and South China Sea, Crimea offers access to both the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.
“Together they calculate that the West is too divided to project a coherent response from Estonia to the Spratly islands,” Kaylan told Business Insider.