The bear watches the dragon. The Russian debate on China
Most participants in the Russian public debate seem to agree in their evaluation of the present condition of Russian-Chinese relations. There is awareness of increasing inequality between these two powers and Russia’s weakening position as compared to China.Those who share the optimistic view see co-operation with China as an opportunity for the Russian economy and a key element of Russia’s multi-directional foreign policy, an opportunity for Russia to avoid unilateral dependence on the West. The pessimists view the deepening co-operation with China through the prism of threats resulting from the increasing imbalance in bilateral relations. The greatest source of concern is the model of economic relations, which is often referred to as neo-colonial, where Russia’s role is reduced to that of a supplier of raw materials to China. The possible consequences are evaluated in different ways, ranging from the political subordination of Russian interests the Chinese ones to real loss of control over the Russian Far East. Those who share such views believe that Moscow should slow down its rapprochement with China and search for other partners in Eastern Asia, relations with whom could counterbalance the Chinese influence.
Marcin Kaczmarski, PhD, Assistant Professor at the Institute of International Relations, University of Warsaw, currently working as a visiting scholar at Aberystwyth University. He was an analyst at the Russian Department, Centre for Eastern Studies in 2006–2012. His major field of study is the foreign and security policy of the Russian Federation.