Form of Yanghtze River! Shape of Russian Bear!
January 20, 2005 1:04 PM   Subscribe

With all the talk about the emergence of Europe as an economic rival to the US, is there a more likely rival emerging? A real strategic partnership between Russia and China could be exactly the combination of nuclear power, boots on the ground, and economic momentum to truly create a new bipolarity. Apparently, there has been serious collaboration in military philosophy between the two powers at least since the USSR broke up, and flash gamers have known about it for at least a couple years, but now it is becoming very real. Conventional wisdom says that there are longstanding disputes over trade and territory, but things generally seem to be warming up. You want to know what the world will look like in 20 years? Look to Siberia.
posted by milkman (9 comments total)
I'm not convinced. Oh, it's certainly *possible* ... but the single biggest thing driving Chinese-Russian relations in the next twenty-to-thirty years is going to be Chinese overpopulation and Russian underpopulation. Which is to say, eastern Russia is a natural target for Chinese demographic expansion ... and that will create tension between the two, especially if Russia begins to fear being overwhelmed.
posted by aphrael at 2:13 PM on January 20, 2005

One key thing to remember is that Russia doesn't trust anybody. And with some justification; they've been attacked and invaded throughout their history. But the fact remains that it's unlikely that a true, long term alliance with China is going to happen. Particularly since Russia is going to become nervous as China grows more powerful.
posted by unreason at 2:17 PM on January 20, 2005

oil will lubricate (re-)emerging societal tensions. the fastest growing and largest economy in the world must romance russia for its crude.
posted by garfield at 2:40 PM on January 20, 2005

here is a good back-and-forth
posted by garfield at 2:52 PM on January 20, 2005

One key thing to remember is that Russia doesn't trust anybody.

And Russia especially doesn't trust -- in fact, hates and fears -- the Chinese. When I visited the Soviet Union, back in the days of the Cold War when the USA and USSR were supposedly at each other's throats, I was told the two countries should get together to defend civilization against the Yellow Peril. To Russians (due allowance for generalization, of course), anything coming from the East awakes historical memories of the Mongol Yoke. More relaxed borders and a measure of economic cooperation is one thing; I'll believe "real strategic partnership" when I see it, which I won't.

It reminds me of the solemn warnings about the links between North Vietnam and Red China back in the day; the Vietnamese hate and fear the Chinese even more than the Russians do, and the first thing they did after they won the war with America was get into one with China.
posted by languagehat at 3:05 PM on January 20, 2005

I agree with aphrael-- depopulation, aging, disease, and slide away from democracy are going to be the big stories in Russia this century. By 2050, I'm pretty sure Russia will have fewer people than Yemen.
posted by ibmcginty at 3:09 PM on January 20, 2005

an economic rival to the US

just wondering...what does this concept of "rivalry" mean exactly, eg to the person in the street? india - for example - already has a middle class larger than the entire population of the usa with the equivalent spending power of middle-class america. are those people some sort of "rivals" or are they just making and spending money, in the same way as middle-class americans do?
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:36 PM on January 20, 2005

A brief marriage of convenience? Maybe. A NATO like partnership? Never. Never in a million years. Yes. I said NEVER.

An economic rival to the US? Yeah. Maybe. Short term. but again same issue as everybody else that pop's up as a potential "rival".

They got NO FRIGG'N ENERGY! Not that is gonna support 30%+ annual growth.

How they gonna fight a war any where BUT China?

Still they ARE gonna have to get rid of all that excess male population with the genders so out of balance and all. So look for China to start a war somewhere in about 20 years.

Hmmm. Who could they start a war with? Russia? Damn those nukes. Japan? Maybe. Taiwan. YOU BET.
posted by tkchrist at 6:34 PM on January 20, 2005

China is jockeying for influence in the Central Asian republics. Russia can't really do much due to Chechnya, but they still have a presence. They both will struggle to keep their pipelines going against guerrillas.

IMHO China is more interested in containing its western seperratist movements while ensuring sufficient resources to wait for Washington's influence in East Asia to wane. I also think other players like India and Pakistan will have some say and will not idly stand by.
posted by infowar at 7:15 PM on January 20, 2005

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