Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine has cast a spotlight on China’s close ties with Russia. The ChinaPower team has developed a series consisting of a historical backgrounder and three features examining the China-Russia relationship. The series focuses on assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the relationship, and it also includes a deep-dive on military cooperation between the two countries. Below, you can preview some of the highlights of each feature and navigate to the full features by following the links.
This backgrounder explores the history of China-Russia relations, from the establishment of relations between the People’s Republic of China and the Soviet Union to the present. The backgrounder features an interactive timeline of major milestones in the bilateral relationship, which you can preview below.
Major Milestones in the China-Russia Relationship
This feature explores how the China-Russia relationship came to be so close, up until the time of Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine. The analysis centers on five key ways in which China benefits from the relationship, each of which is examined in detail.
One of the key strengths highlighted in this feature is the strong personal relationship between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Since he became China’s president in 2013, Xi has met with Vladimir Putin 39 times, which is more than double the number of times Xi has met with leaders of any other major power.
This feature explores key areas of uncertainty and weak points within the China-Russia relationship. While ties between Beijing and Moscow are currently close, there are areas of tension and uncertainty within the relationship. One potential long-term stressor on the relationship is the growing power disparity between the two countries, as China solidifies its position as the more "senior" partner.
This is most visible with respect to economic power. China's GDP has already far outpaced Russia's, and the gap between the two is set to widen as China's GDP is expected to climb toward nearly $30 trillion in the coming years, while Russia's is forecasted to stagnate at well under $2 trillion.
Feature 3: How Does China Benefit from Military Cooperation with Russia?
This forthcoming feature will assess Chinese and Russian military cooperation, a crucial element of the broader bilateral relationship. One key area of China-Russia military cooperation that will be examined in this feature is military exercises.
The two countries conducted their first joint military exercise in 2005, with another four exercises between 2007 and 2012. Starting in 2013, however, China and Russia significantly ramped up their participation in bilateral and multilateral exercises with each other. Through 2021, they have held a total of 53 military exercises.
Keep an eye out for this feature to learn more about how China and Russia benefit from these military exercises, as well as other forms of military cooperation, such as arms sales.