Chinese Defense Minister’s Visit to Russia and Concerns from Outsiders

Photo: AFP.

During the visit, Gen. Li - who used to serve as an officer in the rocket force - met Russian President Vladimir Putin and hold a dialogue with his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu. Gen. Li said that the purpose of the trip was to emphasize China’s determination to enhance cooperation with Russia and exchange strategic information between the two countries’ armed forces.

President Xi once affirmed that China – Russia relationship was entering a “new era.” The fact that Chinese senior officials have repeatedly visited Russia in recent months shows that the two have many reasons to pursue closer relations.  

Strategically, despite existing differences, China and Russia have a mutual benefit in coordinating to prevent the US and the West’s attempts to contain them. Moreover, closer relations with Russia may also help China (i) to increase engagement with Russia to facilitate Chinese global initiatives such as the GSI, GDI, and GCI; (ii) to seek benefits from Russia’s difficulties (Russia may need to transfer advanced weapon technology in exchange for financial and political support from China).

The fact that Gen. Li, a general having knowledge and experience in the field of rockets, chose Russia for his first overseas visit shows that through cooperation with Russia, the Chinese military may be hoping to achieve breakthroughs in ballistic missiles and space weapons. Moreover, China also had plans to develop offshore floating nuclear power plants with technical and technological support from Russia.

In addition, the strengthening of relationships in maritime-related matters like maritime scientific research, environment preservation, joint airborne and maritime patrols and exercises, etc., which was mentioned in the Russia - China joint statement last March, led to G7’s concerns in terms of regional maritime security. The recent G7 Foreign Ministers’ Communiqué affirmed that China has “no legal basis” for its expansive maritime claims in the South China Sea and opposed China’s “militarization activities” in the region.

With all the strategic doubts, the US and the West are viewing new developments in the partnership between Russia and China with caution while simultaneously giving out warnings to deter their cooperation. The G7 Communiqué also warns that any country that assists Russia’s war in Ukraine will face “severe costs.”  

The article is originally published here.

Translated by Trieu Khanh

Revised by HD, Viet Ha