MOSCOW, August 15 (RIA Novosti) – Since the crisis in Ukraine erupted, the US foreign policy has shifted from Asia to Russia and its European neighbors, said Yun Sun, a fellow at Henry L. Stimson Center, a Washington-based global security think tank, in an interview with Radio VR.
“The US was focused on pivot to Asia with the mounting pressure on China. Now Russia is the new troublemaker … That has naturally lifted some of the pressure on China,” the expert on Chinese foreign policy and US-China relations stated.
Deteriorating relations between Moscow and Washington have pushed China and Russia closer, Yun Sun believes. That is natural considering that Beijing does not view Moscow as threat or an enemy. At the same time, China considers the US the biggest challenge to its national security, she explained.
Therefore, “China will not be in a position when it has to choose between the West and Russia,” Yun Sun said. According to the expert, Beijing “will most likely try to adopt a middle-way approach instead of having to choose at all.” She is confident that China cannot be easily coerced into joining Western sanctions against Moscow.
The West views sanctions as the primary means to punish Russia for the reunification with Crimea and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. On July 29, the United States and the European Union announced the latest round of tougher sanctions targeting companies in defense, energy and finance sectors, including major Russian banks, VTB Group and Russian Agricultural Bank, or Rosselkhozbank among others.
In the past several years “the United States has successfully forced China to alter its economic relations with pretty much only one country. That was Iran and the issue was Tehran’s nuclear program,” the expert pointed out. Yun Sun added that China has closer economic relations with Russia than Iran.
Nevertheless, the United States is courting China. However, it is extremely hard for the US leadership to get over the issues that complicate bilateral relations. “The maritime security issue and China’s assertive behavior in the South China Sea … are major challenges for the US to get over [in order] to court China,” Yun Sun asserted.
In general, US-China relations have two distinctive characteristics – regional competition and global cooperation. The regional competitive approach sometimes involves “confrontational approach on certain issues such as the maritime security issue in the South China Sea,” Yun Sun pointed out.
The second feature is an attempt on both sides to foster cooperation between the two countries. “The US and China are trying to cooperate in Afghanistan to facilitate stability and development,” Yun Sun stated. Both countries put a great deal of effort into promoting sustainable development and addressing local crises in Africa. One of the cases in point is the current Ebola outbreak, considered the worst in history. According to the WHO, the disease has already claimed at least 1,069 lives.