"Will Chinese and Russian Cooperation Endanger the European Union"?
In recent years, China-Russia relations have been constantly deepening, and they have independently pursued a number of policies detrimental to the EU’s interests, security, and welfare. The latest PISM report “How China and Russia Could Join Forces Against the EU" is devoted to examining the likelihood and potential risks of this cooperation extending even further. This report is the starting point for an online discussion of experts on Russia and China.
30 April (Thursday) 2020
11:00-12:00 CET (Poland)
12:00-13:00 MSK (Moscow)
17:00-18:00 SGT (Singapore)
The conference will be livestreamed on our You Tube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/PolandPISM
This online conference will be held in English
11:00-12:00 Panel Debate
Topics for discussion:
- the state of China-Russia relations and prospects for their development
- the importance of relations with the EU for both countries
- the impact of the pandemic on Russia-China cooperation and their EU policies
- what could make Russia and China join forces against the EU?
- what instruments might they use?
- Alexander Gabuev, Senior Fellow, Chair of the Russia in the Asia-Pacific Program, Carnegie Moscow Center
- Yu Hong, Senior Research Fellow, East Asian Institute, National University of Singapore
- Justyna Szczudlik, Deputy Head of Research and Coordinator of the Asia-Pacific Program, Polish Institute of International Affairs, and co-author/co-editor of the report
Chair: Patrycja Sasnal, Head of Research, Polish Institute of International Affairs
Will China-Russia Cooperation Endanger the EU?
This question is the focus of the newly published PISM Report “How China and Russia Could Join Forces Against the European Union” and the subject of an online discussion organised by PISM.
The participants agreed with the main thesis of the report that in the short term, the likelihood of China-Russia cooperation against the EU is rather low, as the two countries, especially China, benefit from cooperation with the EU and their main “enemy” is the U.S., not the Union.
Nevertheless, it was mentioned that in recent years China-Russia relations have been consistently deepening and multidimensional, and they have pursued a number of policies detrimental to the EU’s interests, security, and welfare. The latest example includes the feedback loop in Russian and Chinese propaganda or even disinformation campaigns related to the COVID-19 pandemic (e.g., questioning the origin of the virus and insinuating it was the fault of the U.S. and the weakness of democracies in dealing with the pandemic) raise a question about whether the countries are pursuing these policies in parallel or if there is some kind of coordination between them. The participants agreed that it is still an open question that needs further research, but it seems that for now, the parallel approach dominates. There is no established pattern to describe it as a coordinated approach, but it should be underscored that there are several examples of joint activities.
In addition, there are several territories where cooperation and coordination are possible that might be detrimental to the EU, including in the shared neighbourhood, such as the Eastern Partnership countries and Western Balkans. Those areas are treated by Russia as within its sphere of influence, while China is becoming more visible there. Also, there are examples of Chinese-Russian joint actions, such as deliveries of medical supplies during the pandemic to Moldova. Central Asia is becoming a battleground for China and Russia to test norms and standards with the longer-term perspective of being perceived as normative powers.
But, in the discussion, there were also voices that the idea of a China-Russia “alliance” or very comprehensive and close cooperation is to some extent exaggerated. And, ironically, the example of their limitations has been the coronavirus pandemic. Fears of the other have appeared in each country, and Russia closed the Chinese border in the early stage of the viral outbreak. Nevertheless, paradoxically, the pandemic may strengthen Russia’s dependence on China because of the economic problems in the former caused by the significant drop in oil prices and potential loss of future output. Also, China might be perceived by Russia as backer of infrastructure projects that would help the Russian economy recover.