Staunton, April 14 – China’s economy is so much larger than Russia’s that it presents certain risks to the latter – one Moscow expert notes that a single Chinese province has a GDP greater than the Russian Federation as a whole – but at present, “any risks emanating from China are a lesser evil in comparison to Western pressure on Moscow,” Stanislav Pritchin says.
The China specialist at Moscow’s IMEMO says that he does not expect any sharp increases in these risks in the near term and that means that Russia and the countries of Central Asia can benefit from trade and from playing a role as a transit corridor between China and Europe (stoletie.ru/tekuschiiy_moment/rossija_i_kitaj_sotrudnichestvo_bez_granic_789.htm).
The fact that a leading Russian specialist on China is talking about Russian cooperation with it as “a lesser evil” than as a positive good shows that many in Moscow are anything but enthusiastic about cooperation with Beijing and view it as a forced measure because the possibilities for cooperation with the West are increasingly restricted.
Aleksey Maslov, the head of Moscow State University’s Institute for Asia and Africa, says that “we really have an economic asymmetry of an order of magnitude between Russia and China” as “the GDP of the southern Chinese province of Guandong alone is greater than that of the whole of Russia.”
“If we consider Russia only from an economic perspective, then we really have nothing to compare with China,” he continues, “then we really have nothing to compare with China. But if we view Russia as a political component of Beijing’s overall global doctrine, then it is the case that China will have a very difficult time without Russia.”
“China is surrounded by countries which are not very friendly to it,” including India, Vietnam and other countries around “the conflict-filled South China Sea,” Maslov says. In fact, “Russia is the neighbor with which China has settled all disputes at the moment” and which offers it help as a trade route and as a partner in resolving other conflicts.
For Russia, Stoletiye commentator Maksim Stoletov says, “Western markets are closing and Moscow is reorienting toward the East.” That has been Moscow’s long-term strategy, and “the sanctions of the West as a result of the special operation in Ukraine have only increased the importance of convergence with Beijing.”