- There are currently a lot of unsolved territorial disputes regarding the South China Sea
- These disputes involve other Asian countries such as the Philippines, China, Vietnam and Taiwan
- Russia’s silence on these issues raised doubts on the Chinese people
Territorial disputes in South China Sea (i.e. Senkaku/Diaoyu and Spratly) are wreaking havoc between Asian countries like Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, and China, to name a few. The United States is also expressing its criticisms against China, shielding Vietnam and the Philippines.
But we haven’t heard the stand of Russia.
Russia, the “strategic partner” of China, kept mum on its position. This has disappointed the people of China, and had led them to thinking that their relationship with Russia had already ran cold.
“In my eyes, however, this does not mean that Russia is of two minds in its relationship with China,” said Journalist Mu Chunshan in his report on The Diplomat.
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He gave four (4) complicated political and strategic factors that affect the Russia-China relationship, explaining the countries’ current status.
1. Beijing-based journalist Chunshan said that there is no treaty between China and Russia that provides any obligation to give military and political support, unlike the United States and the Philippines and Japan and the US. China and Russia, therefore, are not allies. The truth is that their relations are based on mutual interests, not on any treaty.
2. “Russia enjoys good relations with countries bordering the South China Sea and does not need to offend Southeast Asia for the sake of China. As noted above, Russia is not enthusiastic about publicly backing China on the South China Sea issue. One of the most important reasons for this is that Russia enjoys good relations with many of the Southeast Asian countries,” Chunshan added.
3. It is not important for Russia to confront the US over the South China Sea. Russia is presently focused on Europe, more specifically the Ukraine crisis, from which a confrontation between the West and Russia arose.
“The U.S. is only an influencing factor, not a determining factor that will determine the future of the situation. In this context, as an outsider and bystander, Russia has even less of a motivation to support China and criticize the U.S.,” the journalist explained.
“Given this, Russia has neither the desire nor the ability to confront the U.S. in the South China Sea,” he added.
4. The development of China made Russia worry. Although the Russians are hopeful for their cooperation, it keeps its eyes open for the dangers China’s territorial expansion may eventually pose.
“In Russia, there has always been some concern that China’s development will lead to the Russian far east being gradually “occupied” by the Chinese, with this vast territory, along with its resources, becoming fodder for China’s development. Although Russian officials are optimistic about the potential for cooperation in the far east, they have never for a moment relaxed their guard against China’s so-called “territorial expansion.”” he said.
Considering all these, China does not have any basis to frown Russia’s silence on the South China Sea issue.