“The SCO worked beyond our wildest dreams” – paraphrase of Putin’s statement
“Damn straight brother” – paraphrase of Hu’s, and later Xi’s, agreements with Putin
“If any Stan acts against the SCO’s line, they should be punished” – paraphrase of Nadzarbayev’s statement
“We want to be with the SCO” – paraphrase of the Tajik/Uzbek/Kyrgyz leaders’ statements
“Despite being European, we are considering joining” – paraphrase of Lukashenko’s statement
“Joining the SCO is our top priority” – my prediction of India’s current program
“The SCO will stop America’s drone attacks” – my prediction as to why Pakistan wants to join
I can keep going, but there’s one thing that’s clear: the SCO stabilized Central Asia. It is Karzai’s only hope of staying in power. A turn to the SCO by nearly all of Asia can be achieved. If Asia is as united as Europe and inclusive of Russia, what will happen to the US/EU’s leadership? Can it really hope to challenge that of SCO’s, ASEAN’s and Latin America’s?
Currently Iran, India, Pakistan and Mongolia are on the membership consideration list. Afghanistan might join that quartet, as can Belarus, Sri Lanka and Turkmenistan. Turkey will have to decide: EU integration or SCO integration. Considering that the EU does not want Turkey, the choice seems clear. However, it is unclear if any NATO members can join the SCO. However, it is clear that the Russo-Chinese Alliance is misunderstood in the West:
“Previously, Western experts tended to be extremely dismissive of any potential Russia-China entente. In the standard narrative, the two countries were too culturally and economically distinct, had too long a history of suspicion and distrust, and placed a much higher value on ties with the West than with each other. To simplify things only slightly, the assumption was that the two countries disliked each other so much that they could never, under any circumstances, become allies. Not all of that has changed overnight, of course. Russia and China are still very different countries with very different economies and very different ways of viewing the world. However, both Russia and China, fresh off of sharp disagreements with American-led security blocs, appear much more comfortable with the prospect of confrontation than they were in the past. They also appear substantially more open to the possibility of cooperating with each other.”
Ahhh yes, the good old “if we view history this way, so should you!” And once again reality dares to differ. Let’s look at the Russo-Chinese “disastrous” relationship. First, it is important to note that Russia and China developed a part of their cultural identity in opposition to the Mongols. Second, it is important to note that Russia only fought China in major wars as a member of the coalition, or as a result of Stalin’s actions; neither case is present today.
The Russo-Chinese relations formally began with the Treaty of Nerchinsk. The treaty established a relative era of peace between 1689 and 1855. That’s 167 years, much greater than the times of conflict. Russians and Chinese remember this era even if the Western scholars and analysts do not. If one adds the Era of Tacit Peace to the Russo-Chinese relations, from 1480 to 1689, the relationship is even more harmonious. But we don’t hear about this in the Western press, because it goes against one of the central propaganda tenets: “Russia began flourishing with the West, and Peter the Great who made Russia’s Western Turn is numero uno!” To state that prior to Peter the Great Russia had able leaders and capable generals is to invite severe criticism. And yet, Peter the Great played a very little role in signing the Treaty of Nerchinsk.
In 1855 the Russians sent settlers into a disputed area, despite Chinese protests. However the Chinese did nothing. In 1856 the West launched the Second Opium War, which was planned earlier than the Russian expedition. Russia, acting as an Imperial Power, put pressure on China, but preferred to avoid combat unless it was truly necessary. The Sino-Russian wars were sporadic and generally involved the Western powers.
In 1917 the Russian Revolution began. This ended Russian Imperial Adventurism in China. Thus far we have several centuries or peace and less than half a century of sporadic interventions; does this seem like a disastrous relationship to anyone? In 1927 the Chinese Revolution began. The Red Army’s help during the War against Japan, including Operation August Storm, left fond memories of the Soviets in China.
Then Stalin messed up and Mao overreacted. This event is what serves as the grounds for the Sino-Soviet split, not the maps that Nixon gave to China. The short lived Sino-Soviet military conflict was a onetime event. Both sides fought heroically and did not want a rematch. The rivalry was ended by the recent peace treaty signed by China and Russia. We’re back to centuries of peace after brief and sporadic fighting, which lasted less than a century.
Adomanis continues: “Russia and China are still very different countries with very different economies and very different ways of viewing the world.”
Adomanis is one of the best Western scholars on the matter, and yet he’s wrong in his analysis on this crucial issue. Yes, Russia and China are very different countries with very different economies. As are the UK and Germany. As are Spain and Slovenia. As are the United States and Canada. As are Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. I could keep going here, but neither having different countries nor having different economies has prevented anyone from having an alliance before. If the French and Russians allied during the days of Napoleonic Europe, then they’d go on to dominate the World. Despite being different countries with vastly different economies, Russia and India have a de facto alliance. The crux of the matter is the third claim: “very different ways of viewing the World”. Do they?
It’s the US that views the World as Unipolar. Russia and China do not. The Establishment of the Multipolar World is the key to further Chinese foreign policy. And on that matter China and Russia see eye to eye, enough to make other policy concessions, just to meet that policy. This was evident in Chinese reaction to the Crimean Crisis. The Chinese paid lip service to the Crimean Annexation and that was it. However the Chinese assisted the rallying of BRICS and SCO member states in order to prevent Russia’s exclusion from the G20, and Russia’s isolation. In one case it was lip service. In another case, it was action. China and Russia do not have vastly different ways of viewing the World; they view the World through the exact same Multipolar Lens of Foreign Policy. They might look at different stars, but they’re using the same telescope model.
Adomanis concludes: “A Russia-China alliance is far from inevitable. Frankly, given the troubled history of the two countries, I don’t think it would take a herculean diplomatic effort to head off the creation of such a partnership…”
Short of reanimating Stalin or bringing back the Age of Imperialism, I do. I’ve already discussed that the major Sino-Russian conflicts during their joint history that stretches half a millennium were the results of Imperialism or Stalin’s idiocy, Mao’s overreaction, and subsequent Sino-Soviet efforts to cover that up. Furthermore, the Russo-Chinese Alliance already exists, and the leaders of those countries are simply taking their time to make it official, in order to rally support for their policies on the Home Front.
The alliance was made possible by the Iraq War. In a sense the Iraq War is similar to Operation Ring. First you realize that it was a really bad idea. Then the initial data comes out, proving that it was an even worse idea than you originally realized. Then it gets much worse. Finally it comes around and destroys the way that you conducted foreign policy. And yet you’re scared of what future disasters that war will throw your way.
You try not to think about it; you try to create a successful intervention. Anywhere! And yet, it’s one failure after another. You do not recover your standing, your prestige. You grow desperate, and then a country like Russia shows up and annexes a part of the country that’s pro-you for allegedly legitimate reasons. Even worse, they do it bloodlessly, brilliantly and with extreme precision. You’re shocked that the people living there supported it! You trust the guys who tell you that they’ll fight the Russians. They turn out to be inept. More lands secede. And then China threatens your other allies over what they believe is their rightful claim.
The fall of American Dominance began with the Invasion of Iraq. When a power falls in the Unipolar System, other powers rise to take its place. But no one was strong enough to take America’s pre-2003 place. As thus, a change in the System of World Governance resulted. There’s nothing unique or complex about what I’m saying; it’s just basic Hegelian Evolution.
With this in mind, let’s look at the SCO. The United States applied in 2006 and was rejected. Does anyone think that if the US applied in 2002, they’d be rejected? I doubt it too. Was the rejection widely covered? Widely analyzed?
After 2003 and 2006 comes 2008. Anyone notice China’s reaction to the Ossetian War? China called for an Olympic Truce. It did not take a rocket scientist to determine what Russia was going to do to Georgia’s armed forces after the latter had the “brilliant” idea to bomb the Russian Peacekeeping Base and Russian civilians under Saakashvili’s command. As long the war was limited to Russia and Georgia, the Russians were going to win. And what did the Chinese do? They assisted in ensuring that the war was limited to Russia and Georgia. Additionally, they placed Putin and Bush together, showing that Russia was equal to the US.
The issue is not that Russia and China are going to ally. They’re already allied. The issue is that they’re being pushed away from Europe and the US to such an extent that they’re feeling comfortable announcing their alliance to the rest of the World, showing that the US/EU opinion does not really matter. That’s the devastation that can still be prevented.
Nevertheless, as with Ukraine, the US/EU presume that the situation is much less worse than it actually is. The same mistake that was committed by Gorbachev during Operation Ring, the same mistake that was committed by Bush during the Invasion of Iraq, the very same mistake is being repeated. Again. The West must truly understand just how bad the situation is in Ukraine, understand that Russia and China are already, de facto, allied, understand that the Unipolar Lens is the one that’s out of tune, and fully understand the impact that the Ukrainian Crisis will have on the World, including the Russo-Chinese Relationship. Otherwise they’re in for a load of unpleasant surprises, just as the Republican Party was after the War in Iraq.