"Russian arms sales to China and military-technical cooperation could have significant consequences for the United States, challenging US air superiority and posing problems for US, allied and partner assets in the region," Meick wrote in a recent report released by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, set up by the United States Congress in 2000.
The analyst maintained that defense cooperation has been the primary driver of "warming" relations between Moscow and Beijing. Not surprisingly then, China and Russia "appear to be moving toward a higher level" of defense cooperation, as the analyst put it.
The analyst mentioned two high-profile arms deals inked by Moscow and Beijing in recent years. The agreements on the delivery of Sukhoi Su-35 multirole fighters and the S-400 Triumf, some of the most advanced armaments designed and manufactured in Russia. The former was concluded in November 2015, with the first batch delivered to China in late 2016.
The S-35s will help Beijing "contest US air superiority, provide China with technology that could help accelerate the development of its own advanced fighters and serve as a valuable training and learning platform before China fields its next-generation aircraft," the analyst observed.
Russia is expected to start delivering the S-400 surface-to-air missile (SAM) defense systems to China in 2018. On Tuesday, Russia's Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation spokeswoman Maria Vorobyeva said that Russia and China are implementing the contract "in strict accordance" with its terms and conditions.
"The increased complexity and focus on joint operations of military exercises between the PLA and Russian Armed Forces help provide both sides with valuable experience in pursuing their defense objectives. The exercises are particularly useful for the PLA – which lacks recent combat experience – because they provide much-needed insights and knowledge that help China pursue its military modernization goals," the analyst said.
Moscow and Beijing's cooperation is not limited to defense, with high-ranking officials in both countries calling the relationship a model for great power relations.
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