Moscow and Beijing are both moving ahead with plans for bilateral cooperation in strategic security issues in the face of rising pressure from the United States.
Speaking on the sidelines of the China-Russia strategic security consultation, Nikolai Patrushev, the Russian security council secretary, said that Moscow and Beijing continue cultivating their development, “at an upward trajectory in full compliance with the key interests of our states.”
“The course towards further strengthening of bilateral relations fully meets the interests of Russian and Chinese development,” RIA Novosti quoted Patrushev as saying on Wednesday in Shanghai.
“Key goals on further strengthening Russian-Chinese strategic partnership are clear to us. We plan to continue trust-based and comprehensive dialogue on a whole range of security issues,” Patrushev added.
Patrushev’s statement comes at a time when Russian and Chinese officials are seeking closer ties as a hedge against U.S. President Donald Trump’s approach to trade and global affairs, which has pitted Washington against Beijing in trade especially.
Patrushev noted that intensive and trust-based contacts at a high level have remained, “the most important and reliable pillar of the entire Russian-Chinese strategic partnership,” which have enabled the sides to effectively control the implementation of designated plans, as well as “timely coordinate steps on topical international issues, including given the American factor.”
Yang Jiechi, a member of China’s Communist Party Politburo, emphasized that the joint Russian-Chinese statement on developing strategic cooperation signed in June outlines new goals for Russian-Chinese “side-by-side” cooperation in ensuring strategic security.
According to Jiechi, Moscow and Beijing should step up cooperation to jointly counter external threats and foreign meddling in the face of the current unstable international climate. Jiechi underscored the role of the China-Russia strategic security consultation as, “a vital mechanism” in countering external threats and outside interference.
A deepening of Russo-Chinese relations began after Russia’s relations with the West started spiraling downward after the outbreak of the Ukrainian crisis in 2014, and only worsened with allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. In June, relations were upgraded to a comprehensive strategic partnership at a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping that was dedicated to the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Some analysts say that the relationship could someday lead to a military alliance. Bilateral defense cooperation made news headlines in September when the two sides held military drills dubbed Center-2019. The exercises were aimed at defeating terrorism and ensuring security in Central Asia, involving approximately 1,600 troops, over 300 pieces of weaponry, and nearly 30 fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters from Beijing, making China the largest foreign participant at the drills.
A year earlier, Russia and China held exercises with 300,000 troops near the Chinese border, called Vostok-2018, which was Russia's largest war games since the Cold War.