Thursday, July 24, 2008

China and Russia will continue to strengthen its strategic partnership


By China Watcher

I cannot resist but sense a strong pro-Caucasian fervor and anti-Chinese (or Asians) make-up in the article by Dmitry Shlapentokh on “Wary of China, Russians look West” published on the website, http://www.atimes.com on 23 July 2008.

The author mentioned that when Russia President’s Medvedev took his first overseas trip to China on his ascendancy to power, it did not mean anything to the effect of creating a Chinese-Russian alliance because the Russian people – both elite and popular – approach to China is often guarded. His very own preserved opinion is assured and confirmed when he visited Russia to gauge the views of the Russian people whom he claimed is still very much Western oriented to his relief.

I do not understand this as China and Russia forged only a strategic partnership and it is not even near an alliance but the writer is already so paranoid about the whole matter.

The Russian people are predominantly white Caucasians and obviously, they are quite alarmed by its overpopulated neighbor, which is almost 10 times its own. This is made worse by the Russian and Western media and the Russian education systems of implicitly promoting a “white-only” Russia and exaggerating the threat from its huge neighbor over the past 50 years.

I would not deny the fact that there are bias remarks presented by the largely Caucasian Russian commentators when they covered the Sichuan earthquake disaster or the floods in Guangdong. Even the Western media presenters like BBC and CNN are critical in its reports of the Chinese handling of the disaster relief. It is nothing unusual especially if it is coming from the mainly “white-based” reporters. I could felt on many occasions the immeasurable sense of jealously in its one-sided comments and somehow, these group of people could not accept the fact that China has grown so much economically in 20 years whereby its own Russia’s economic programs were in shambles except maybe, in the last couple of years when crude oil prices were at its historically high, of which Russia has much in production as well as in reserves.

China has emerged from its doldrums and it will be the third largest economy at the end of the year, overtaking Germany. China has never stated that it had become a progressive society and the fact, that it stresses very much internationally as a vibrant developing country with a lot of catching up to do, both in terms of science and technology and societal development, given its vast expanse of land, they had already accepted this as a reality. It is the foreign media and the Western journalists who were trying to exaggerate the Chinese achievements to the extent of instilling untoward fears in its mostly Western readers of the threat coming from the “barbaric yellow peril”. One good example of this stated fear is the enhanced Chinese military threat to peace in Asia which was continuously highlighted in the annual Pentagon report in the US.

The author continued to argue that though the Chinese economy has grown significantly over the past two decades, he pointed out that the Chinese economy also has inherent issues like high inflation. Inflationary pressures only started to surface in the last three years and most of these are cost-push rather than demand pull and if you observed the world inflation situation, almost every nations are facing the same inflation problem due to the sharp spike in crude oil prices which was more pronounced in the last few years. Chinese inflation rate at 7-8% is still manageable and I think the issue has been overblown just to justify his criticisms of the Chinese economy.

Economically, there is still a lot to gain from the Sino-Russia partnership but he continue his critical comment that there is nothing the Russians could gain from such a link-up citing that most of the niche markets are taken up by the Japanese and the American. At present, the Russian are selling its commodities, mostly oil, by rail to the production centers across the Eastern coastal industrial hub of China. China has yet to reach the technological prowess of its East-Asian neighbors of Japan and Korea Republic and it loses out in the export of quality automobiles and electronic goods to Russia. But the Chinese has steadily caught up. Even the Koreans are acknowledging that the technological gaps are closing in with certain electronic products measured in terms of years to only three or possibly four. I am confident that in a decade from today, we will be able to see more quality products coming from China. For example, there are already some good quality shoes and wearing apparels from China if we are willing to pay slightly more. It is only natural for a country industrialization process to move up the technological ladder with the passage of time.

Being a superpower, it need not necessary be associated with the production of high-tech goods alone or having a strong economy, it must be seen to play an active role in world politics and owning a very strong military. Most political analysts are of the opinions that after the successful staging of the Olympics, China will gain an important attribute that is, confidence, which is needed to project Chinese power in the fields of political influence, economy and the military spheres.

Presently, China and Russia have played important roles in the international arena. I hate to disappoint the author in this realm with both countries sharing a lot of common viewpoints and understandings currently, mainly to check the US-dominated Western views or merely to offer an alternative solution, present and future, on how societies are to be shaped. Clearly over here, I think the Russian views are more Chinese-oriented or vice-versa instead of the mainly Western-centric ones.

I also believe that if the US continues to forcefully push for its defense shield in its “satellite” states of Czech Republic and Poland, it will naturally increase the bonding between the two close neighbors. The encroaching and expansion of NATO borders closer to Russia’s borders will be another push factor that will draw Russia and China together. China also had an inert fear that the Western military alliance is so close to Central Asia. The time is not ripe but if the US-Russia relations worsened, formation of alliance is a possibility. China will also seek to evaluate its relationship with the US in a completely different perspective but it will have to take prime importance over economic interests.

The author also hides the notion that a large percentage of the Russian people are also not agreeable to the positioning of the defensive missiles so close to its country. The Russian and Chinese governments have initiated people to people exchanges recently and these programs will go a long way to built trust and rapport at the grassroots between the two great nations.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which the writer has conveniently left out in his article, was formed in 2001 as a cooperative forum between China, Russia and the Central Asia States of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. The grouping is not Asian but more Eurasian. The possibility of this bloc turning into a military alliance cannot be dismissed in the near future.

The world is constantly changing and evolving and by continuing to harp on the “old” Europe when Russia was part of the European era in the 16th and 17th Century because of common Christian faith and white-based background only speaks volume of the racist and single-minded nature of the writer. Compared to those periods, the world is now more connected and if there is a fusion of societies due to the demographic structure and closeness, there will be no stopping of this natural assimilation unless of course, there are artificial barriers set up to prevent this from happening. The present Russian leadership has announced that, by and large, it is a European nation but due to its sizeable land mass in the Asian continent, it should therefore not practice any look east or west policy.

The trend is changing to a multi-polar world and I am happy to note the gradual positive development in the strategic partnership between China and Russia.

I am certainly not deterred by the anti-Chinese remarks coming from this author who is a naturalized Russian American professor who favored a strong Western alliance which is to include Russia and the US.