China-Russia Security Relations: Strategic Parallelism without Partnership or Passion?

  • August 01, 2008
  • Dr Richard Weitz

This report argues that, although Chinese-Russian relations have improved along several important dimensions, security cooperation between Beijing and Moscow has remained limited, episodic, and tenuous. The two governments support each other on select issues but differ on others. Since these interests conflict as well as coincide, the relationship is not necessarily moving in an anti-American direction. Although no action undertaken by these two great powers is insignificant and Washington must continue to monitor carefully developments in Beijing and Moscow, thus far their fitfully improving ties have not presented a major security challenge to the United States or its allies. Nevertheless, the radical changes in great power relations during the past century—-which also witnessed major transformations in ties between Beijing and Moscow, from allies in the 1950s to armed adversaries in the 1960s—-behooves U.S. Army and other national security planners to anticipate the potential for major discontinuities in Sino-Russian relations. Above all, American officials need to pursue a mixture of “shaping and hedging” policies that aim to avert a hostile Chinese-Russian alignment while concurrently preparing the United States to better counter such a development should it nevertheless arise despite American efforts.