March 27, 2006
By Peter Brookes
CHINA+RUSSIA = TROUBLE
A blossoming Sino-Russian romance is undercutting U.S. global
interests on an unprecedented scale. Indeed, Russia and China seem
to have their eyes on restraining European and Japanese power, too.
Start with the United Nations, where Russia and China are hampering
U.S.- and European Union-led efforts to address Iran's nuclear
program. It's been weeks since the Security Council got official
notice that Iran had violated its nonproliferation promises - yet
the U.N. body has yet to manage to even condemn Tehran's actions,
much less impose economic sanctions.
No surprise: Both Moscow and Beijing have way too much at stake to
bully their buddy, Tehran. China has billions invested in Iran's
oil/gas fields; Russia hopes to make its own billions by
reprocessing Iranian reactor fuel. And both sell millions in
advanced weapons to Iran.
Russian and Chinese unwillingness has also stalled the world's
drive to contain and roll back North Korea's nuclear-weapons
program. While Pyongyang may be an annoying, needy country cousin
for Moscow and Beijing, neither minds that the issue causes
nuclear-strength heartburn for Washington, exacerbating festering
U.S.-South Korean alliance problems. China certainly doesn't lose
sleep over North Korean missiles bore-sighted on Japan,
Meanwhile, both have pushed for the closing of U.S. bases in
Central Asia (used to support the Afghanistan mission). They've
succeeded in Uzbekistan, but so far fallen short in
And Russia and China last summer conducted their first-ever joint
military exercises, which included 10,000 military, intelligence
and internal security forces. Both capitals claimed the drills
weren't aimed at any country - not that anyone in the U.S., Taiwan
or Japan believed that . . . Rumors abound that another series of
joint exercises is planned later this year.
Of course, Russia is fueling China's military buildup - selling
billions of dollars in advanced submarines, fighters, destroyers
and missiles. Just recently, Beijing purchased strategic aircraft
from Russia for troop movement, air-to-air refueling and AWACS-type
Just last week the world's No. 2 energy producer (Russia) signed a
slew of energy deals with the world's No. 2 energy consumer
(China), including a deal to build a 2,000- mile-long gas pipeline.
The pacts allow Beijing, now the world's fourth biggest economy, to
feed its insatiable energy appetite, while competing with
energy-poor Japan for access to Russian oil/gas resources. For
Russia, sales to China give it an alternative to the demanding,
increasingly "Green" European market.
Moreover, both nations have been cooperating on foreign and
military intelligence matters since the end of the Cold War, and
are growing counterintelligence problems for the United States,
Europe and Japan. With the end of Cold War-era travel restrictions,
Chinese and Russian spooks see open societies as easy
According to the FBI, China is now America's greatest spy threat.
But Russian intel operations - under Russian President Vladimir
Putin (a former KGB Colonel) - are at an all-time, post-Berlin Wall
high, too. Just last week came news of Russia giving U.S. war plans
and troop-movements to the Saddam Hussein regime just before and
after the 2003 invasion.
Chinese espionage rings have also been exposed in Europe, while
Russia has redoubled its efforts there in recent years. And Japan's
weak espionage laws make it a spy's happy hunting ground.
Everything isn't completely rosy between the two capitals: There
are trade disputes and friction over mass Chinese migration into
resource-wealthy Siberia. Russia has to worry about China's growing
military muscle, while China's not wild about the budding
But the two powers share a host of concerns - on American global
power and EU/NATO expansion, on Japan's growing international
profile and on democratic revolutions in Europe and Asia that
undermine their influence.
And Putin's Russia is nostalgic for its Soviet glory days, while
President Hu Jintao's China wants to restore the all-powerful
Middle Kingdom. Which means that neither country is going to be
reversing course any time soon.
Brookes is a Heritage Foundation senior fellow. His
book, "A Devil's Triangle: Terrorism, WMD and Rogue States," is
First appeared in the New York Post
A Blossoming Sino-Russian romance is undercutting U.S. global interests on an unprecedented scale. Indeed, Russia and China seem to have their eyes on restraining European and Japanese power, too.
Senior Fellow, National Security Affairs
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