Context:

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping hailed close ties between their countries as they launched via videoconference work on Russian-built nuclear power plants in China.
  • They initiated work on pouring concrete into new units of the Tianwan and Xudabao nuclear power plants.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (India’s neighbors, Foreign Policies and interventions affecting India’s policies)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Columns of the China – Russia partnership
  2. Advantage for China in trade
  3. Significance of Russia-China ties and RIC to India
  4. Russia-India-China Grouping (RIC)

Columns of the China – Russia partnership

  • The three pillars on which the Sino-Russian partnership currently rests are a peaceful boundary, expanding trade and a shared distrust of American intentions.
  • Western sanctions have tended to push the Russians closer to China.
  • Falling oil prices and fears of new sanctions on Russian gas supplies (Nord Stream 2) are demolishing the core of Russian exports to Europe, thus compelling them to depend to an even greater degree on the Chinese.
  • After the western sanctions, China-Russia trade has more than doubled to $108 billion and China has surpassed Germany as the principal supplier of industrial plant and technology.
  • Coordinated action in multilateral forums, increasingly sophisticated joint military exercises, and including activities with third countries such as Iran, reinforce western beliefs about it morphing into an alliance.

China’s rise, Russia’s unease

  • Mr. Xi’s talk of “rejuvenation of the Chinese Nation” has raised fears about Chinese revanchism.
  • Add to this the Russian concerns over Chinese migration in the Russian Far East, and it would not be improper to surmise that policymakers in Moscow must be concerned about the possibility of China becoming a threat Russia’s territorial integrity.

Advantage for China in trade

  • As for the economic pillar, while Russia presently enjoys a nominal trade surplus, going beyond gross trade to value-added trade, China has a clear advantage going forward.
  • Most of its exports to Russia are now at a higher technology level while the share of labour-intensive goods has declined.
  • At the other end of the spectrum, Russian exports have continued to focus on raw materials, especially oil and gas.
  • Despite Chinese promises, the investment relationship remains subdued except where it has suited China’s core energy interests.
  • Russia remains wary about allowing any dominating role for China in oil and gas.
  • As for their shared dislike of Washington, each still hopes to repair ties and, therefore, neither trusts the other fully with respect to the third leg of the strategic triangle.

Significance of Russia-China ties and RIC to India

  • India is in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which is driven by Russia and China and includes four Central Asian countries.
  • Pakistan’s membership of SCO and the potential admission of Iran and Afghanistan (as member states) heighten the significance of the SCO for India.
  • Growing Chinese influence is testing the informal Russia-China understanding that Russia handles the politico-security issues in the region and China extends economic support.
  • The ongoing India-Iran-Russia project for a sea/road/rail link from western India through Iran to Afghanistan and Central Asia, is an important initiative for achieving an effective Indian presence in Central Asia, alongside Russia and China.
  • Access to Russia’s abundant natural resources can enhance our materials security — the importance of which has been highlighted by COVID-19.

Russia-India-China Grouping (RIC)

  • Russia-India-China (RIC) is a strategic grouping that first took shape in the late 1990s under the leadership of Russia as “a counterbalance to the Western alliance.”
  • The group was founded on the basis of ending its subservient foreign policy guided by the USA and renewing old ties with India and fostering the newly discovered friendship with China.
  • Together, the RIC countries occupy over 19% of the global landmass and contribute to over 33% of global GDP.
  • Even though India, China and Russia may disagree on a number of security issues in Eurasia, there are areas where their interests converge, like, for instance, on Afghanistan. RIC can ensure stable peace in Afghanistan and by extension, in Central Asia.

-Source: The Hindu

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