IN the contemporary international arena, regional alliance is significant; and for great powers like China and Russia to have regional popularity and cordial relations with all the regional countries is in its fundamental interests. Last month, China and Russia commenced an eight-day joint naval exercise in the South China Sea off the coast of China’s Guangdong province, in a sign of growing cooperation between their armed forces against the backdrop of regional territorial disputes. The “Joint Sea-2016” included ships, submarines, ship-borne helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, along with marines and amphibious armoured vehicles which carried out live-firing exercises.
The Naval exercises concluded on September 19. Interestingly this exercise is the first major drill of its kind involving China and a regional power Russia in the South China Sea. So Beijing and Moscow held the first-ever South China Sea iteration of their Joint Sea exercises. Chinese and Russian navies appointed in a range of activities, including search and rescue drills, anti-submarine warfare, and “joint-island seizing missions.” Later appears to be a new addition to Joint Sea drills in 2016.
Wang Hai, Chinese chief director of the exercise and deputy commander of the Chinese Navy, said the joint drill is “a strategic measure” and a concrete action to promote the China-Russia wide-ranging strategic partnership and will deepen exchanges and cooperation between the two militaries, especially the two naval forces. The drills emphasized combat, digitization and standardization to promote naval cooperation. The drills gave the two countries an opportunity to show each other their combat effectiveness, and the performance data of their military vessels, planes, radar and sonar. Joint Chinese-Russian drills have grown increasingly common in recent years and Joint Sea-2016 is fifth between the two navies since 2012 – with the countries joined in their mutual suspicion of the US and its allies. Russia has been the only major country to speak out on China’s behalf in its demand that the US and other countries stay out of such arguments.
From Russian perspective, the partnership with China has always been a much easier task as both have many commonalities such as their lack of stronger relations to many of the European nations and both the countries also experience distrust against the United States which naturally binds these two countries in a close partnership for collaboration despite of having many varied interests. This relation is mutually dependent as Russia needs China for its economic and military interests and China needs Russian support to become a partner in Eurasia and these both have a common interest to become able to maintain an effective counterweight against the US and its allies The Sino-Russian relations in the shape of expanding SCO is an alarming message for many states that these can build a power bloc which has a prominent role in the international affairs to have their diverse policy than the West as they don’t believe that power is hidden in the secrets of interference in other’s internal affairs and dominating world through rouge means.
The Sino-Russia axis and its expanding power beyond the region and is sometimes also termed as a steady move towards the global and military ascendancy as both regional powers are already in alliances and the purpose of their alliance formation is not primarily confined counter the expansion of NATO in the region, but actually these states sought to split some common benefits and strategic affiliation to avoid any bilateral conflict that would cover the way to invite any external player to dominate their sphere of influence and put their interests on stake.
—The writer works for Strategic Vision Institute, a think-tank based in Islamabad.