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Strategic Rapprochement: NATO Expansion Brings Russia, China Closer

© AFP 2021 / HOW HWEE YOUNGThe Russian and Chinese national flags are seen on the table as Russia's President Vladimir Putin (back L) and his China's President Xi Jinping (back R) stand during a signing ceremony at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on November 9, 2014.
The Russian and Chinese national flags are seen on the table as Russia's President Vladimir Putin (back L) and his China's President Xi Jinping (back R) stand during a signing ceremony at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on November 9, 2014. - Sputnik International
The Russo-Chinese partnership is contributing a lot to global peace and prosperity, Chinese academic Dr. Shen Dingli told Radio Sputnik. According to Dr. Shen, the expansion of NATO, which poses a challenge to both Russia and China, has brought the two countries closer together.

A full-fledged official summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping took place on Tuesday in Moscow.

The leaders of the two countries signaled mutual interest in boosting cooperation and developing what Xi called a "strategic alliance."

"The fast-growing, pragmatic cooperation has become the locomotive in the continuous development of China-Russia relations," Xi highlighted.

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The Chinese president noted that Beijing and Moscow plan to enhance collaboration and coordination in international affairs to cope with global challenges.

"We are committed to joint efforts with Russia to coordinate and cooperate in international affairs and jointly with the international community to take efforts to optimize global management, protect and maintain strategic balance and stability around the world in order to jointly overcome global threats and challenges such as terrorism, jointly stimulate the process of political settlement in hot spots and form a new type of interstate relations on the basis of cooperation and mutual benefit," Xi said following his meeting with Putin.

Commenting on Xi's visit to Moscow, Dr. Shen Dingli, Associate Dean at the Institute of International Studies at Shanghai-based Fudan University, said that the Sino-Russian relationship could become the key to world peace.

"Russia and China should walk together to make the world peaceful and prosperous," Dr. Shen emphasized in his interview with Radio Sputnik.

He noted that Beijing and Moscow need to coordinate their approaches to global issues and not allow the US to "exercise unnecessary and unwarranted pressure on the other countries."

To illustrate his point, Dr. Shen called attention to the recent developments in Syria.

According to the Chinese scholar there are many reasons behind the Syrian crisis, but the principle one is the US' war on Iraq. A series of revolutions in the Middle East, encouraged by Washington, also dealt a heavy blow to the region's stability, Dr. Shen remarked.

"China and Russia have been very much opposed to such a crisis. And we know that the US has been behind such a development," he told Sputnik.

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The academic noted that although Washington may have triggered this chain of events unintentionally, it is the US who is primarily responsible for the ongoing crisis in the region.

"Now with the mess, the US is encouraging the opposition in Syria to [attack] the legitimate government," he said.

In contrast, Russia and China are supporting the legitimate government in Syria and making efforts to encourage the national reconciliation between the government and the opposition, Dr. Shen highlighted.

"We hoped that the US would play a positive role rather than supporting one party against the other party and even launching military strikes against the Syrian [Arab Army] Air Force," he underscored.

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Speaking to Radio Sputnik, Dr. Shen also shed light on the Sino-Russian economic cooperation and answered the question why there have been no reports of significant breakthroughs in this sphere during the recent talks.

"The two leaders have met three times this year and have met 20 times over the past five years. They have [struck] a lot of agreements. So you cannot expect the two leaders to [make] lots of agreements each time," the Chinese academic noted, referring to the fact that Putin and Xi had made a significant progress in this area in the course of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in May.

"It takes time for two countries to find a new area to cooperate [on]," Dr. Shen remarked, adding that even friends could have differences and sometimes time is needed to work out a mutually beneficial agreement.

Dr. Shen emphasized that Sino-Russian ties are rooted deep in history. Furthermore, in the middle of the 20th century the relationship between the two countries was booming. Unfortunately, political differences then pulled them apart.

However, following the end of the Cold war and the settlement of the border dispute the two countries came together again, he stressed.

Dr. Shen underscored that currently the Sino-Russian partnership is dependent not on ideology, but on mutual respect and economic interests. According to the academic this partnership helps reducing tensions simmering over both the Iranian nuclear issue and North Korea's nuclear issue.

"All these [issues] are putting us together," he noted.

Incredibly as it may seem, the United States has played an important role in accelerating the Sino-Russian strategic rapprochement, the academic pointed out, referring to the NATO bloc expansion both in the West and in the East.

"Our countries should walk together to have unity and make the world peaceful and prosperous," Dr. Shen stressed.

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