Russia-China: The Most Important Bilateral Relationship in the World

The cooperation of the two giant empires Russia and China is getting closer and closer, although the West is fighting this reality with contrary reports and analyses. This cooperative collaboration will be the foundation for a multipolar world and the Western hegemony has nothing to oppose it except its ideology.

Peter Hanseler

Western analyst perspective

Western analysts do not believe that close cooperation between the two states will be successful, as they are too far apart ideologically, culturally and politically. This is merely an alliance for lack of alternatives, the last chance for Russia as an outcast nation. It is further rumored that China is turning away from Russia because China condemns Russia’s war in Ukraine. 

“At the G-20 summit in Bali, the Kremlin was isolated because even India and China turned their backs on it.”

NZZ editorial, 11/19/2022 discussed in my article Resist the beginnings! – Propaganda of the NZZ


In this essay, I try to show that the Western arguments are ideological and do not purposefully speak against a closer cooperation between the two countries, since neither China nor Russia aim at hegemony, do not pursue ideology-based foreign policies, but coolly represent the interests of their respective states instead of fighting each other because of their differences.

Ideology as the Guide of U.S. Foreign Policy

U.S. foreign policy can be summarized as follows: Promoting freedom and democracy and protecting human rights around the world are central to U.S. foreign policy.

“The U.S. considers any system that is not structured like the American system to be inferior.

This not only sounds ideological, but it is. 

The USA regards any system that is not structured like the American one as inferior. This virtually rules out trusting cooperation with third countries that do not share the ideology of the USA.

The USA as Hegemon

I have already pointed out several times that life as a hegemon is very difficult, since it must remain the undisputed number one in the world in order to enjoy the fruits of hegemony – such as the exorbitant privilege of reserve currency status.

“As long as hegemony will be the primate of U.S. foreign policy, its maintenance will be existential for the United States.”

However, demonizing the U.S., trapped in this self-constructed system, is not expedient. The Americans are simply doing what they deem necessary to maintain their hegemony. As long as hegemony is the primate of U.S. foreign policy, maintaining it will be existential for the United States. 

Consequently, it is part of the U.S. foreign policy strategy to fight any country that can be seen as a threat to this hegemonic status. 

This is how the USA has been acting since 1945 with all the measures at its disposal: By force of arms, sanctions, control of the World Bank and the IMF or by control of the “partners” by imposing American laws using the RBIO. 

RBIO stands for rules-based international order. It is by no means international in its legislation. These are American rules which the USA, as the hegemon, imposes on every country that is and wants to remain a “partner” of the USA: Thus, it is not the rules that are international, but merely their implementation. 

In this way, the U.S. undermines the sovereignty of its partner states, which, however, plays no role for U.S. interests and has so far been accepted by the majority of the partner states. The consequence, however, is that the partner states, by undermining their sovereignty, are no longer partners but become vassals.

As a consequence of this hegemonic strategy, the USA will never meet China and Russia, for example, which do not want to give up their sovereignty under any circumstances, on an equal footing; rather, the Americans regard countries which want to remain sovereign at most as “regional powers” – the world power is only the USA.

The Americans will not get out of this self-tailored corset as long as they do not appreciate a multipolar concept, and they very probably will not; who likes to give up supremacy?

China Russia – a thorn in the side of the Americans

One does not have to look far back to understand that Americans have viewed a good relationship between China and Russia with suspicion since World War II and have gone to great lengths to prevent close and organized relations between the two giant empires.

Charm Offensive Kissinger and Nixon

The American charm offensive by Henry Kissinger and President Nixon in the 1970s was not taken to become good friends with China – this successful action of the USA had nothing to do with being charming. Rather, it was about driving a wedge between the Soviet Union and China or preventing the two empires from getting closer.

Mao Zedong and Henry Kissinger – 1971
Picture: China

Henry Kissinger is reported to have said that in 20 to 30 years the same charm offensive would have to be launched at the Russians to prevent Russia and China from coming together; next time simply from the other side. However, this did not happen. 

US Anti-Russian Foreign Policy in Europe

Due to the American geopolitics in Eastern Europe since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the relationship between Russia and the USA suffered considerably, which even resulted in a war last February, which can justifiably be described as a proxy war between the USA/Nato and Russia. 

Russia’s westward interests have always been obvious, if only due to the fact that the culture of the Russians – although 70% of Russia’s territory is in Asia – is westernized, and thus the cultured Russians naturally harbor great emotions for Europe. 

Until last year, Russia’s elite was also inclined towards the West: They had their houses and yachts in Europe, invested in Europe, were important customers of European banks, and sent their children to European and American schools.

Russophobic attitude of Western Europe

The sanctions storm that was the response to the Russian military operation in Ukraine is unique in history, would like to be read as a non-military response, but turns out to be a hegemonic effort by the West under the guise of outrage.  

The result has been rampant Russophobia in Europe, which could become the turning point in Russia’s Western orientation. By Russia in this context, I do not mean the Russian government, but the Russian people.

Although many in the West claim that the sanctions are not directed against the Russian people, this is in no way true. Initially, the sanctions were directed against oligarchs who were close to the Kremlin; however, today all wealthy Russians are classified as oligarchs and are persecuted in Europe, including in Switzerland, which claims to be neutral but adopted EU regulations that violate Swiss constitutional rights tel-quel. Link: Regulation on measures related to the situation in Ukraine – in German, French and Italian

“A hint of the danger of this Russophobic attitude is wiped away with the argument that these people are responsible for who they elected president.”

In the mass media, the death of every Russian is cheered. It is not pleasant for Russians to live in Europe, whether they support the Kremlin’s military operation or not.

It is incomprehensible to me personally that many ordinary citizens in Western Europe support such a Russophobic policy. 90 years ago in Germany began the gradual persecution of the Jews, which started leisurely through anti-Jewish laws in economic sectors and culminated in the extermination of the Jews.

A hint at the dangerousness of this Russophobic attitude is wiped away with the argument that these people are responsible for who they elected president. 

“If you have the wrong passport or residence, you can no longer invoke your constitutional rights.”

In my opinion, this anti-Russian attitude of Western Europe will lead to a rethinking of the Russians. Apart from the atmosphere, the Russians have realized that the property guarantee held in such high esteem by the West is only valid if one is of the same opinion and can be nullified with the stroke of a pen by a few politicians. 

The public in the West, which is considering or even advocating not only the blocking but the confiscation of Russian assets, is obviously unaware of the danger such a precedent would pose to Western society as a whole. If you have the wrong passport or residence, you can no longer invoke your constitutional rights. These are extremely dangerous tendencies that a constitutional state should not succumb to under any circumstances. 

Anti-Chinese American Foreign Policy in Asia

The U.S. initially dealt with the Chinese differently than with the Russians. President Trump instigated a trade war against China, which harmed both China and America and their respective producers and consumers. 

The next stage of aggression was not long in coming. Freely following the foreign policy motto of the US, they cited human rights violations in China, which I can not comment on here, because I simply lack the knowledge. The sole purpose of this strategy was to make China look bad in the West, which succeeded. 

The next escalation stage was not waiting long: The Chinese were denied the right to consider the China Sea, which is about 9400 km away from the USA, as a Chinese sphere of influence (nomen est omen). The interests of third countries like the Philippines or Vietnam were presented, but in the core it is only about the supremacy of the USA in the Pacific area. 

In 2022, the U.S. did everything it could to destabilize the China-Taiwan relationship – for example, with Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.

Ideology-free collaboration

Bilateral ideology-free action

The differences between the political systems of Russia and China are considerable. The same is true of culture. To that extent, the Western analysts are right. However, the two giant empires – rightly – ignore these differences in their cooperation.

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, both Russia and China have largely freed themselves from ideological constraints on cooperation. They are guided solely by the interests of their respective nations. 

There is no room here for the kind of sentimentalism between the respective heads of state that is commonplace in the West. The only question is whether and to what extent cooperation will benefit national interests in the long term. 

No room for sentimentality – Image: Nikkei montage/Source photo by Reuters

There is not the slightest interest for China and Russia to regard each other as antagonists. 


Complementary economies 

The Russian and Chinese economies are very complementary. The factory of the world – China – needs many raw materials in addition to energy sources such as oil, its products and natural gas, all of which the Russians have. 

American politicians often refer to Russia as a gas station, insinuating that Russia is viable solely because of oil. But this is far from the case. 

The Russians are extremely efficient in extracting their huge range of raw materials – they still seem to have the necessary technologies, despite the sanctions. For example, Russia can extract oil for USD 12/barrel, which is extremely efficient.

“Further, the level of education in Russia is very high and westernized, which in turn is complementary to the Asian education path of the Chinese.”

Another important factor for the bilateral relationship is the fact that Russia is the world’s largest agricultural exporter and can therefore contribute a great deal to supplying China with agricultural goods. 

Finally, the level of education in Russia is very high and westernized, which in turn is complementary to the Asian education of the Chinese. 

I will comment on the level of highly efficient Russian weapon systems at a later stage.


Pacified common border

Russia and China share a very long border of about 4,200 km. A peaceful border is essential for both countries, as it eliminates the need for troops to guard the border. 

This was not always the case. Border disputes have existed for centuries and the last military exchange took place in 1969 in the so-called Ussuri Incident. 

Since 1990, however, both sides have made intensive efforts to resolve all differences diplomatically. A series of agreements followed, which were concluded in 2008. This settled all differences and since then both countries have not massed troops on their common borders. 

The Western media seem almost immune to such weighty facts. In its outlook for 2023, the NZZ starts the year by citing the above-mentioned 1969 border conflict, but then fails to mention that the border has been pacified for 15 years, while pointing out that China is stoking Russian fears.

Interests vs. Ideology

I have already emphasized in my essay on BRICS and SCO that Russia and China put interests before ideology in their cooperation. These countries do not seek to change and ideologize their partners. 

The discussion here about the way China and Russia interact with each other also applies to the relations that prevail between the members of BRICS and SCO. In the case of the BRICS organization, it should be emphasized that in addition to the official members, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, many other states are very close to this organization, such as heavyweights like Saudi Arabia and Iran. 

The success of this organization, in my opinion, is based on the fact that these organizations are run without ideology. China and India have numerous political conflicts regarding borders, etc. Nevertheless, they are united and by being members of such organizations, the common goals are pursued and they are partners, not adversaries. In such a friendly environment, the chances of resolving border conflicts diplomatically, for example, are much greater than in an antagonistic environment. 

One should look closely at what is hidden behind a package that is labeled “democracy”.

Ideology always leads to antagonism if one declares an ideology to be dominant, as the U.S. does with the “democracy” it espouses. It seems that the U.S. is in an impasse because the organizations of the East also invite countries that have a different policy. The atmosphere is more open. 

As a Swiss, I take the liberty of mentioning that democracy is a dull buzzword in many countries. Democracy stands for the fact that the people – demos – hold the power – kratos – by being able to influence political decisions. But who holds the power in the EU – Mrs. van der Leyen is a civil servant, who was not even elected by the people, but has immense power – is that democracy? One should look closely at what is hidden behind a package that is labeled “democracy”.


Do China and Russia have differences and how do they deal with that? In many countries around Russia, which used to belong to the Soviet Union, the Chinese are very active and invest a lot of money. The Russians do not see this as a threat. Their influence is cultural, because in most countries Russian is spoken, militarily similar conditions prevail, and the Chinese are not seen as a threat, but as a welcome addition. 

That would be unthinkable with the Americans. They always want control, economically and militarily, and the answer lies always in the same place: Hegemony. 

“Russia and China are not ideologues when it comes to international cooperation.”

The Russians and the Chinese, however, are anything but do-gooders. They have simply realized that hegemony no longer works in today’s world. A system of hegemony based on force of arms and money is no longer financially viable at all. The military opponents of the United States in the last 30 years were not to be taken seriously. The Americans always had air supremacy in these conflicts and were technically and tactically vastly superior. Further, they covered the other side of power with the petrodollar. 

Today’s military and commercial adversaries of the U.S. include China and Russia. The U.S. will not have air superiority in a conflict and will face a highly technologized military power. It is questionable whether the U.S. is even equipped for such a conflict.

An unpalatable result for the USA

Henry Kissinger is certainly not happy about the current state of affairs. His foreign policy strategy developed in the 1970s, which aimed to prevent the two giant empires from joining forces through diplomacy, has failed. Seldom has the relationship of the USA with both China and Russia been so dismal. 

My personal wish would be that the Americans would be able to make something of a multipolar world and together with all countries create a world community that is less antagonistic. However, it looks like this will remain a pious wish. History has taught us that empires under pressure regularly act extremely aggressively – unfortunately.

Russia-China: The Most Important Bilateral Relationship in the World

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