This undated file photo shows the national flags of China and Russia on Red Square, Moscow. Bilateral relations between China and Russia differ from the kind of military-political alliance seen during the Cold War. (PHOTO / XINHUA)
BEIJING – There are those in the West inclined to frame the relationship between Beijing and Moscow by using the traditional geopolitical term of "allies." Their assessment is wrong.
Bilateral relations between China and Russia differ from the kind of military-political alliance seen during the Cold War. Instead, the two countries transcend such a model of state-to-state relations, adopting an approach of no-alliance, no-confrontation and not targeting any third party, according to a joint statement signed and released by Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in Moscow on Tuesday.
With the steady development of bilateral ties in recent years, the two countries have set a fine example for developing a new model of major-country relations featuring mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation
With the steady development of bilateral ties in recent years, the two countries have set a fine example for developing a new model of major-country relations featuring mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation.
But why do Beijing and Moscow, comprehensive strategic partners of coordination for a new era, choose not to become allies?
A core principle in a new era
Non-alignment is one of the core principles of Chinese diplomacy and a valuable experience from history.
During the Cold War, the world was divided by two ideologically-driven camps vying for global supremacy. Several countries had no choice but to be forced to pick sides.
With the end of the Cold War, most countries prioritize making friends and boosting development in a peaceful environment. China is no different.
China's diplomacy follows a path of non-alignment, non-confrontation and non-targeting of any third party.
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Non-alignment is both the core and a key premise, demonstrating China's independence in making policies and refusing to attach to or submit itself to others. China does not ally itself with any country, including Russia.
The principle of non-alignment, non-confrontation and non-targeting of any third party is enshrined in the Treaty of Good-Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation Between China and Russia signed in 2001.
The legally-binding pact, which serves as a fundamental guideline for the China-Russia relationship, has determined the nature of bilateral ties. The treaty also makes it legally impossible for the two countries to form an alliance.
In various official joint statements made by the two sides over the years, China and Russia have repeatedly stated that their relationship is not a kind of alliance and will not target any third country.
Say no to bloc confrontation
The nature of the Cold-War era alliance means that those who choose to ally with each other need to shoulder some obligations for one another.
Alliance members could temporarily feel secure under an "umbrella." Still, they are very likely to face more adversaries as outsider countries could establish their own alliances or take drastic measures in response.
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Yet when one country is being threatened or facing aggression, its allies must come to its aid. Such a relationship binds countries together, making your enemies mine and my adversaries yours.
Alliances pose the risk of bloc confrontation and even a hot war, plunging the world into chaos. China and Russia clearly understand the potential danger.
While meeting the press with Putin after their talks on Tuesday, Xi stressed that under the new historical circumstances, the two sides will view and handle China-Russia relations with a broad vision and a long-term perspective, in a bid to make greater contribution to human progress.
In the joint statement on deepening the comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination between China and Russia, the two sides reaffirmed their opposition to all forms of hegemonism, unilateralism, power politics, the Cold War mentality and bloc confrontation.
And in the face of profound changes rarely seen in a century, China has always been an active champion of the building of a new type of international relations based on mutual respect, fairness, justice and win-win cooperation, and of a community with a shared future for mankind.
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Being allied could also undermine national credibility, making flexibility in international affairs difficult. If China were a Russian ally, China couldn't remain neutral on the Ukraine issue, let alone promote peace talks.
To some extent, US attempts to maintain its hegemony and contain the development of other countries have driven China and Russia closer.
China and Russia are dedicated to upholding their original aspirations of being good neighbors, good friends and good partners to bring mutual benefits to their people through win-win cooperation.
HONG KONG NEWS