5. China and Russia inch closer together
While Washington prepares for new cold wars, America’s two major rivals are warming up to one another, Axios' Dave Lawler writes.
What's happening: As mentioned in the story above, the Trump administration laid out an Africa strategy that is tied almost entirely to blocking Chinese and Russian influence.
- Trump used the word “China” 20 times in a relatively brief Fox News interview.
- U.S. foreign policy is increasingly defined by confrontation and competition with China and with Russia.
- But what about the third leg of that “great power” triangle?
Between the lines: Dave sat down earlier this week with Alexander Gabuev, a China expert at Carnegie Russia, who says the two giants are moving closer together — in part as a response to an increasingly confrontational Washington.
- There are "three elements of geopolitical tinder that allow Russia and China to swipe right every time," Gabuev says. They are the need for security on their 2,000-mile border, the complementary natures of their economies, and the similarities in their authoritarian approaches.
- Those elements provide the foundation for a relationship that is growing deeper and is characterized by the phrase, "not necessarily for each other, but never against each other."
The long-standing issues of tension — like competition for influence in Central Asia or China's copycat approach to Russian military technology — have largely been put aside, Gabuev says.
- In September, China took part for the first time in Russia’s Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) and its massive Vostok war games, where Xi and Putin donned aprons and made pancakes..
- On Nov. 30, Putin and Xi met again at the G20 on Nov. 30, though their conversation was overshadowed by Trump’s high-stakes dinner with Xi and last-minute cancellation of his Putin meeting.
The bottom line: I asked Gabuev if there's an existential fear of a China-led world in Moscow, as there is in Washington. He said Russian officials tend to view the U.S.-led world order as "finished," but don't believe China will simply replace America, in part because Europe and Japan won't get in line behind Beijing.
- In the meantime, Moscow sees U.S.-China competition working to its advantage. If Russia can keep its seat at the table as a second-tier power with a big nuclear stockpile, it can ultimately live with a Chinese superpower