Are China and Russia Getting Too Close for Comfort?

A China in the World Podcast

Discussion of U.S.-China-Russia relations often focuses on how American policy is driving Moscow and Beijing closer together. This analysis, however, ignores important factors limiting cooperation between China and Russia and preventing the two countries from forming an alliance. Paul Haenle sat down with Carnegie scholars Dmitri Trenin, Eugene Rumer, and Alexander Gabuev to discuss constraints on the China-Russia relationship and their implications for U.S. policy.

Trenin, Rumer, and Gabuev agree that there are clear limits to further China-Russia cooperation. Trenin characterizes the relationship as an “entente” driven by a high degree of mutual strategic understanding on common core interests. Gabuev argues that China’s rapid pace of growth relative to Russia’s has led to insecurities in the Kremlin despite their growing economic, military, and technological ties. Russia does not want the relationship to become too asymmetrical and fears becoming overly reliant on Beijing for economic and technological support. Rumer argues neither side is looking for an alliance, as both Moscow and Beijing want to maintain positive relations, but at an arm’s length. Haenle highlights that Russia and China hold divergent views of the international system, leading to fundamental disagreements over whether to reform or undermine the global order. He argues that China is increasingly frustrated by Russian attempts to further its geopolitical aspirations by exploiting global instability.