I am going to repeat what I said yesterday in English in order to reach a broader audience.
According to RTHK, Putin is going to visit China
soon today. He stated that China is Russia’s most trustworthy friend, and deepening the relation with it would be the top priority of Russian diplomacy. He further added that Russia and China’s view on most global issues are very close or even in lockstep, and both sides are willing to work with each other closely.
This statement proves that my prediction made two months ago was totally correct. I stated that Russia and China are going to coordinate their grand strategic moves with each other tacitly in order to gain initiative over their Western rivals.
This prediction might seem simple enough for most onlookers, but its implications are very important to Western strategic planners. This coordination between Russia and China disrupts the plan to expand Western influence in Eastern Europe and East Asia. It forces the Western planners to choose and focus on one theatre if they do not want to stretch their efforts thin and get their absolute amount of influence reduced as a result.
Nonetheless, knowing politics and psychology, Western leaders, especially the US president, would and could not afford to pick and choose, as it would make them appear weak in the eyes of their electorates and suffer attacks from their oppositions. For this reason alone, Western strategic position is very likely going to deteriorate.
That being said, should the West wants to break up this alliance of convenience, there are still solutions. It is easier to sway China away from Russia by offering various kinds of benefits, because China’s strategic position is not as strong as Russia’s, and it is not totally committed on a direct conflict, like Russia did over Crimea.
Furthermore, Russia would not want to be forced to negotiate a deal with China under strategic pressure, as it would put it in a disadvantage; it wants wiggle room in order to get the best out of the natural gas deal, as that would be the main item of interest of Putin’s visit.
Therefore, the outcome of this visit is going to send us signals about the strength and the scope of Russo-China strategic coordination. If they decided to form a pact on space project and aerospace research, this would mean that their will to form and maintain a strategic pact is strong and the leaders are determine to stand together against Western pressure. If the outcome remained on the level diplomatic speak about deeper cooperation for mutual benefits, that would suggest both leaders are apprehensive of each other.
Thus, strategic planners of all countries can use the natural gas deal as a benchmark, and by measuring its distance from the actual outcome, they can see into the immediate strategic future. Putin’s announcement of pulling back border troops suggests that he does have some strategic concerns over China and he needs some strategic room to get the best out of his China visit.