Since President Biden of the United States took office, he has continuously taken actions to maintain or even increase the degree of containment and suppression of China and Russia. This has led to more and more analyses in the international strategic academia on the deepening of strategic cooperation between China and Russia and the joint control of the United States. In the process, the analysis framework of the “Great Triangle” of China, the United States and Russia has been widely mentioned. To deeply understand the current situation of Sino-US-Russian relations, we must first clarify the constituent conditions, main features, and development trends of this “big triangle”.
Why the “big triangle” relationship is still
In the 1990s, both China and Russia worked hard to develop relations with the United States, and the theory of the disappearance of the “China-US-Russian triangle relationship” once emerged. And to determine whether the big triangle relationship is still established, it depends on whether the following three conditions are met at the same time:
One is that neither party can defeat the other or both parties alone. China, the United States and Russia are both independent world powers and permanent members of the UN Security Council. They all have the comprehensive strength to carry out comprehensive competition in strategic fields such as land, sea, air, and sky. They must constitute a large triangle relationship that can affect the international pattern and international order.
Second, there is a structural contradiction between any party and the other or both parties in terms of fundamental interests. The fundamental interest of the United States lies in maintaining the dominance of the world order, while China and Russia are both seeking to achieve national and national rejuvenation, but this is considered by some elites in the United States to seriously impact the hegemony of the United States. The contradictions between China, Russia and the United States are structural contradictions such as dominance and anti-hegemony, rise and anti-rise, containment and anti-containment, unilateralism and multilateralism, and there is limited room for mutual compromise. This is an outstanding feature that is different from the “big three-sided” relationship.
Third, any set of bilateral relations has a huge impact on the other two sets of bilateral relations. The Sino-US, Russian-US, and Sino-Russian relations all have a huge impact on the other two groups of bilateral relations. The three pairs of relations are interactive, and the strengthening of Sino-Russian cooperation will affect and check Sino-US and Russian-US relations. At present and for a long period of time in the future, the deepening of strategic cooperation between China and Russia to deal with the siege of US hegemony will be the basic trend of the big triangle relationship.
What are the characteristics
On this basis, the Sino-US-Russian triangular relationship presents the following characteristics:
First, the United States clearly treats China and Russia as its “main strategic opponents” at the same time. The gap in power between China and the United States has narrowed rapidly and has been viewed by the US anti-China hawks as an all-round challenge and has become the so-called “main strategic competitor.” Russia’s military strength and strong diplomacy angered Washington and is regarded as a “major security threat.” After the Biden administration came to power, the diplomatic tactics were focused on forming gangs to encircle China and Russia.
Second, the Sino-US-Russian triangular relationship has profoundly affected the reconstruction of the world order. The United States is the guardian of the world hegemonic order, and China and Russia are emerging countries committed to establishing a fair and reasonable new world order. Whether China, Russia and the United States revolve around promoting economic globalization, world multipolarization, respecting the diversity of civilizations, or defending the dominance and hegemony of the United States into a strategic game will directly affect the direction of the world order.
Third, due to the high degree of integration between China and the United States in economic and technological fields, the United States will pay a heavy price for its “decoupling” with China. Moreover, China and Russia have jointly responded to the strategic needs of the United States in a stable and lasting manner. Russia and the United States have experienced two relative honeymoon periods during the early disintegration of the Soviet Union and during the U.S. war on terrorism. They experienced a “restart” of relations when Medvedev was president. However, the structural contradictions of core strategic interests and the confrontational strategic culture determined the two countries. Difficult to get close for long. The unprecedented high level of Sino-Russian relations is based on broadly similar strategic situations, broadly similar strategic concepts, and broadly similar strategic interests. It has a strong endogenous motivation. Coupled with the simultaneous containment and containment of China and Russia by the United States, the joint cooperation between China and Russia in the big triangle relationship is stable and sustainable for the United States.
Will the “big triangle” game end?
Judging from the fundamental interests of China, the United States and Russia and the balance of power, the Sino-US-Russian triangle relationship will show the following development trends.
First, China and Russia are moving further towards “economic, security, and political integration and cooperation.” The United States cannot overwhelm China economically, nor can it overwhelm Russia in terms of security. Therefore, it pays attention to undermining China’s economy by security means and undermining Russia’s security by economic means. On the one hand, the United States suppresses the Chinese economy, forcing other countries to deviate from their own interests and make the so-called “distance” from China, in an attempt to isolate and intensify China’s domestic economic and social pressures and undermine China’s political stability. At the same time, the United States has increased its sanctions against Russia by promoting its ally system in an attempt to create difficulties for Russian companies, worsening national finances, lack of funds for military development, and aggravation of social problems, thereby seeking opportunities for instigating a “color revolution” against Russia. In the face of common strategic challenges, only strengthening economic cooperation or security cooperation between China and Russia is a weak cooperation for either party. In the future, it will tend to strengthen “economic and security (political) integrated cooperation” and achieve complementary advantages.
Second, the strategic game between China, the United States and Russia in Eurasia has become increasingly fierce. Eurasia is the world’s largest geostrategic plate with the largest area, the largest population, and the greatest potential for development. Most of the world’s international hot spots appear in Eurasia, and the United States is often behind it. China and Russia maintain peace and stability in the Eurasian continent and promote mutually beneficial cooperation and common development among Eurasian countries. It is expected to directly weaken the global hegemony of the United States and maintain the security and stability of China and Russia’s common neighboring regions. In response to the attempts of the United States to create and use Eurasian hot spots, strengthen its allied system, delay the integration of Eurasia, and strategically squeeze China and Russia from the east to the west, China and Russia will inevitably deepen the “Belt and Road” and “Greater Eurasian Partnership.” Docking cooperation, strive to enhance the role of the SCO in regional governance, promote the SCO to strengthen multilateral cooperation and form more common values, and extend it to the wider region of Eurasia.
Finally, China’s strategic culture will end the “triangular game”. China’s view of justice and benefit has the characteristics of non-army and hegemony, tolerance and openness, and mutual assistance, which is conducive to pushing the world to get rid of the Western dualism. Based on this, China puts forward a proposition that is very different from the American hegemonism: security has changed from an absolute security model to a mutual protection model, economically from a monopoly model to a mutually beneficial model, and culturally from a conflict and exclusion model to an inclusive and mutual authentication model. Under the influence of China’s strategic culture, especially the concept of justice and benefit, China and Russia are expected to achieve a high degree of political harmony, a high degree of mutual trust in security, a high degree of economic integration, and a high degree of mutual learning in culture. The new type of country represented by China continues to develop and grow, and the multipolarization of the world continues to move forward, which will eventually force the United States to abandon its demand for monopoly power in the world order. At that time, the structural contradictions between China and Russia and the United States will weaken and the Sino-US-Russia When the triangle was replaced by the “big trilateral” relationship between China, the United States and Russia.