FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The Bilateral Relationship that Matters

Which is the most important bilateral relationship in the international arena today? Many analysts would argue that it is the relationship between the United States of America and China that has the greatest significance for the world. Some see it as the relationship between an established power and a rising power which has often led to war in the past. They quote the great 4th century BC Greek historian, Thucydides who had observed that “it was the rise of Athens and the fear that this instilled in Sparta that made war inevitable.” Contemporary thinkers like Graham T. Allison who coined the term ‘The Thucydides Trap’ point out that over the last 500 years there have been 16 instances in which an established power had felt threatened by a rising power and 12 of them ended in war. One of the most devastating was the war between Britain and Germany which was at the crux of the First World War from 1914 to 1918. On the other hand, the US took over the mantle of British imperial power after the Second World War in 1945 in a relatively peaceful manner.

I do not see the US and China going to war. Burdened by perpetual wars and massive debts running into trillions of dollars, a huge segment of the US populace has no appetite for another conflagration that will further sap the nation’s energies. At the same time, the Chinese leadership knows that a war with a technologically superior military power will be a severe blow to the country’s economic and social development which remains its foremost goal. However this does not mean that the US and China will be able to transact a peaceful transfer of power. The US it is obvious is not prepared to accept with equanimity its overall decline as a hegemon. This is why there will be skirmishes and conflicts from time to time as we witness the end of the era of US helmed Western global dominance and the birth of a new phase in international relations.

At the core of this new phase is another bilateral relationship which I regard as far more critical in shaping the present and the future. This is the relationship between China and Russia which is at its zenith at this point in time. It is a relationship that covers the entire gamut from finance, energy and agriculture to military and security ties and to close coordination on regional and global political issues. The leaders of the two countries, Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin, who have forged a strong inter-personal bond, approved in July 2017 the 2017-20 implementation outline for the Treaty of Good Neighbourliness and Friendly Cooperation between China and Russia.

This ever strengthening bond between the world’s most populous nation and its biggest geographical entity will not only hasten the demise of US hegemony but will also accelerate the emergence of a multi-polar global order. A number of other states are already linked to China and Russia through BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). These bodies are further buttressed by initiatives such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) project and the Eurasian Economic Union. Though the participants in all these endeavours are not always on the same page on various challenges confronting the human family today, they will help to diffuse and disperse power at the regional and global levels. A multi-polar world by definition will allow for the growth of multilateral institutions and the enhancement of international law. In short, it will be good for global peace.

Of course, the developing Sino-Russian bond is not without its challenges. Let us not forget that China and Russia (the Soviet Union) in spite of their common communist ideology, quarrelled with one another from the fifties to the eighties, over a variety of issues pertaining to economic approaches, political strategies and simply power and influence in other parts of the world. This time however by emphasising solid economic cooperation and forging common political positions on global conflicts that affect both nations, Presidents XI and Putin have succeeded in anchoring Sino-Russian ties in shared interests that really matter to them. Besides, the US’s pursuit of its hegemonic agenda in the vicinity of China and Russia has undoubtedly brought the two states closer together. Chinese and Russian leaders are only too aware that there are concerted moves by the intelligence apparatus in the US and elsewhere to drive a wedge between China and Russia. If anything it has increased their determination to remain united.

More articles by:

March 26, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
How ISIS’s Brutal Project in the Middle East was Finally Overthrown
Joshua Frank
To Celebrate or to Not? The Mueller Question
George Ochenski
The Fox in the Henhouse: Bernhardt at Interior
Thomas Klikauer
Corporate Bullshit
William deBuys
12 Ways to Make Sense of the Border Mess
Robert Fisk
Ardern’s Response to Christchurch has Put Other Leaders to Shame, But Not for Its Compassion Alone
Binoy Kampmark
Disinviting Jordan Peterson: the Faculty of Divinity, Cambridge and Approved Ideas
James C. Kennedy
The Poisonous History of Neo-Classical Economics
Jenna Orkin
Quentin Crisp’s Posthumous Book, the Sequel
Elizabeth Keyes
My Russia Hot-Air Balloon
March 25, 2019
Jonathan Cook
Three Lessons for the Left from the Mueller Inquiry
Dave Lindorff
The TSA’s Role as Journalist Harasser and Media ‘Watchdog’
Tanya Golash-Boza – Michael Golash
Epifanio Camacho: a Militant Farmworker Brushed Out of History
Robert Fisk
Don’t Believe the Hype: Here’s Why ISIS Hasn’t Been Defeated
Jack Rasmus
The Capitulation of Jerome Powell and the Fed
Lawrence Davidson
Israel’s Moves to the Right
John Feffer
After Trump
James Ridgeway
Good Agent, Bad Agent: Robert Mueller and 9/11
Dean Baker
The Importance of Kicking Up: Changing Market Structures So the Rich Don’t Get All the Money
Lawrence Wittner
What Democratic Socialism Is and Is Not
Thomas Knapp
Suppressing Discussion Doesn’t Solve the Problem. It is the Problem.
Stephen Cooper
“I’m a Nine-Star General Now”: an Interview with Black Uhuru’s Duckie Simpson
Andrew Moss
Immigration and the Democratic Hopefuls
Weekend Edition
March 22, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Henry Giroux
The Ghost of Fascism in the Post-Truth Era
Gabriel Rockhill
Spectacular Violence as a Weapon of War Against the Yellow Vests
H. Bruce Franklin
Trump vs. McCain: an American Horror Story
Paul Street
A Pox on the Houses of Trump and McCain, Huxleyan Media, and the Myth of “The Vietnam War”
Andrew Levine
Why Not Impeach?
Bruce E. Levine
Right-Wing Psychiatry, Love-Me Liberals and the Anti-Authoritarian Left
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Darn That (American) Dream
Charles Pierson
Rick Perry, the Saudis and a Dangerous Nuclear Deal
Moshe Adler
American Workers Should Want to Transfer Technology to China
David Rosen
Trafficking or Commercial Sex? What Recent Exposés Reveal
Nick Pemberton
The Real Parallels Between Donald Trump and George Orwell
Binoy Kampmark
Reading Manifestos: Restricting Brenton Tarrant’s The Great Replacement
Brian Cloughley
NATO’s Expensive Anniversaries
Ron Jacobs
Donald Cox: Tale of a Panther
Joseph Grosso
New York’s Hudson Yards: The Revanchist City Lives On
REZA FIYOUZAT
Is It Really So Shocking?
Bob Lord
There’s Plenty of Wealth to Go Around, But It Doesn’t
John W. Whitehead
The Growing Epidemic of Cops Shooting Family Dogs
Jeff Cohen
Let’s Not Restore or Mythologize Obama 
Christy Rodgers
Achieving Escape Velocity
Monika Zgustova
The Masculinity of the Future
Jessicah Pierre
The Real College Admissions Scandal
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail