As is known, in March 2014 of the year, after the annexation of the Crimea to the Russian Federation and the introduction of Western countries of sanctions against Russia, Moscow was counting on support, primarily from Beijing, and support both economic and political. The Kremlin had similar calculations due to further developments - the conflict in the Donbas, the beginning of the Russian military operation in Syria, and the confrontation between Moscow and Ankara. Actually, the whole "turn to the East" meant, first of all, the next "fraternity forever" with Beijing.
SANCTIONS ON THE FACT
All these hopes of Moscow were completely not justified. She received no real political support from Beijing. In the course of all voting in the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly on the Crimea and the conflict in Ukraine, China invariably abstained, as do a few dozen other countries. China has not legally joined the sanctions against Russia, but this cannot be considered as support. The fact is that certain sanctions against the Russian Federation were imposed by the United States, Canada, EU countries, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Montenegro, Ukraine, Moldova, Albania, Georgia, Japan, Australia, New Zealand. In total, these are 42 countries from 192 countries - members of the UN, that is 21,88% of recognized states of the world. Thus, China was only among the 150 countries (or 149, if we exclude Russia itself), which preserved their previous relations with Russia.
The preservation of the previous relations can hardly be considered support, especially since more than three-quarters of the countries of the world, including, in particular, such close allies of the United States as the Republic of Korea and Israel, turn out to be such "supporters". The same can be said about the arrival of Xi Jinping to celebrate the 70 anniversary of the Victory in Moscow, since there came a significant number of foreign leaders, including those from EU countries.
Moreover, of all the states that have not legally imposed sanctions against the Russian Federation, China has become, in fact, the only country that actually introduced them. Beijing recommended that Chinese enterprises with state participation not cooperate with Crimean companies and not participate in any agreements or projects in the Crimea, and also repeatedly refused to accept official Russian delegations from Crimea or representatives of Crimea as part of wider Russian delegations. Chinese banks (with the exception of the state Eximbank and Development Bank) de facto joined the sanctions against Russia and began to evade issuing loans to Russian banks and other economic entities or sharply tightened the conditions for issuing such loans. In addition, many Russians were forced to close accounts in Chinese banks. At the same time, China retained all relations with Ukraine in the same volume.
The trade turnover between the Russian Federation and the PRC declined by two years in two years, although Moscow was counting on its significant growth. Apart from the well-known gas agreement, whose fate is still not completely clear, there are still no major joint contracts between the two countries, as well as the expected flow of investments from China to Russia. Moreover, taking advantage of the economic problems of Russia, Chinese economic agents only tighten their negotiating positions with their Russian partners, although these positions have always been very tough.
Relations in the sphere of military-technical cooperation are also quite difficult to develop. In particular, the negotiations on the sale of Su-35С fighters for the PLA Air Force only this year ended with the signing of a relevant contract, but it has not yet entered into force, since it has not been ratified by either the Russian or the Chinese side. In any case, this year the contract implementation will not start any more, especially since the Russian Defense Ministry signed a contract for the supply of additional 50 Su-35С to the Russian Air Force, which will load the production capacity of the plant in Komsomolsk-on-Amur. The situation with the contract for the supply of a C-400 AAMS system to China is completely unclear, there is not even complete certainty that it was actually signed. However, in this case, the delay with the signing and implementation of contracts can, perhaps, only be welcomed.
AND AGAIN NO SUPPORT
Russia did not receive the slightest support (even verbal) from China in connection with the situation in Syria and the Middle East in general. China distances itself as much as possible from expressing its position in relation to the parties fighting in Syria, without even rendering any symbolic assistance to Assad and his supporters. Moreover, in fact, Beijing is now acting on the opposite side. This became completely clear after Xi Jinping’s trip to the Middle East (visits to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran) this year. The President of the PRC quite clearly expressed his political support for Saudi Arabia, one of Assad’s main opponents. He supported the Saudi “fight against terrorism” (which is extremely funny in itself: Riyadh against terrorism is just like “bees against honey”) and the intervention in Yemen, during which the Saudis and their allies killed up to 10 thousand. civilians with, to put it mildly, insignificant military successes. The negotiations of Xi Jinping in Tehran, which is one of the main allies of Damascus and the Yemenite Hussites, boiled down to economic issues. During a speech to representatives of the Arab League in Cairo, Xi Jinping condemned any foreign military intervention in the affairs of the Middle East, apparently bearing in mind the Russian operation in Syria. The only Russian action in Syria that China has welcomed is the conclusion of the main body aviation groupings in March 2016, which in the context of his position is quite natural.
Moreover, at the time of maximum exacerbation of relations between Moscow and Ankara after the destruction of the Russian Su-16 bomber by the Turkish F-24 fighter, Beijing announced the construction of a transport corridor bypassing Russia through the Silk Road project through Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. Of Ukraine. This path is longer than through Russia, while it is extremely inconvenient because of the need to cross the Caspian and Black Seas. In addition, it passes through conflict zones in the South Caucasus and Central Asia. Nevertheless, Beijing is very actively developing it. Thus, there is either a direct challenge to Moscow, or a complete demonstrative disregard of its interests.
A rather peculiar situation is developing now with respect to the DPRK nuclear program. In fact, now there is a collusion between Washington and Beijing to overthrow the regime in Pyongyang through its economic collapse (therefore, they developed a draft resolution of the UN Security Council with a sharp tightening of sanctions against the DPRK jointly). At the same time, both Washington and Beijing hope after this to put North Korea under their complete control, that is, after the overthrow of Kim Jong-un, the interests of the United States and the People's Republic of China will become opposite, but until that moment they coincide. Moscow is categorically not interested in such a development of events, but it was not ready to single-handedly veto the UN Security Council resolution on sanctions against North Korea (although it tried to delay its adoption). Perhaps this is the biggest foreign policy mistake of Moscow in recent years. It was doubly unacceptable to vote for this resolution because Russia itself is under illegal sanctions. And constantly says that any sanctions are generally counterproductive. With regard to the Korean problem, this is completely true, but for some reason in this case Moscow has forgotten about its own statements. At the same time, it is obvious that the sanctions will only lead to a further tightening of the position of Pyongyang, which is already happening in reality.
Interestingly, before his visit to Moscow in March of this year, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at the session of the NPC that the relations between China and Russia “could well withstand any test of the international situation,” there is reason to believe that “the general trend towards all-round development of China’s “Russian cooperation cannot change under the influence of any temporary negative factors.” Thus, it was directly recognized that Russian-Chinese relations go through "trials" and through "negative factors."
Thus, the real relations between Moscow and Beijing are becoming increasingly difficult, but the official rhetoric remains the same: both sides successfully continue to tell the rest of humanity about the unprecedentedly good relations between themselves. There is no doubt that in the foreseeable future this situation will continue. But at some point it will become impossible to hide reality behind rhetoric.
And there is absolutely nothing to be surprised here. Over the past two decades, Chinese officials have repeated the same formula many times - relations with Russia are not allied and are not directed against third countries. And this formula fully reflects the real position of Beijing. He will not quarrel with Moscow for the sake of the West, but to the same extent he does not see the slightest reason to quarrel with the West for the sake of Russia, especially since China’s trade with the US and the EU is not even times, but orders of magnitude greater than with Russia .
Similarly, Beijing sees no reason to quarrel for the sake of Moscow and Kiev. Ukraine is very interesting to China as a “bridge” to Europe (and bypassing Russia), as a source of some military technologies and fertile land, which Beijing would very much like to rent. China is extremely ambiguous about the Crimean precedent. On the one hand, he can consider himself "Ukraine" in the light of the problems of Taiwan, Tibet and XUAR. On the other hand, as he continues to grow his complex power, he can also play the role of “Russia”, and “Ukraine” will prove to be, it is possible, just Russia. In any case, the Crimea did not officially recognize Crimea in Russia.
Saudi Arabia and Iran, opposing each other in the Middle East, are among the three largest oil suppliers to China. At the same time, China receives significantly more oil from the monarchies than from Iran, so that’s why it’s not going to quarrel with them. With Ankara, Beijing has been developing very close multilateral relations for many years, including in the sphere of military-technical cooperation. Therefore, he is absolutely not going to conflict either with the monarchies or with Turkey for the sake of Assad, whose fate, like Syria as a whole, Beijing does not care. Nor do they care about the problem of fighting Islamic terrorism, although Beijing has long since successfully recorded itself as its “victim”. Everyone remembers well that in 80-ies the United States, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan created Al-Qaida (a terrorist organization banned in the Russian Federation) to fight against Soviet troops in Afghanistan, but for some reason everyone forgot that another member of this anti-Soviet Coalition was at that time China. Xinjiang separatism is of an exclusively national, not religious nature, but Beijing successfully created the myth of Islamic extremism of the Uyghurs, thus fitting into the global mainstream of “combating international terrorism”.
Thus, neither in the Crimea and Ukraine, nor in Syria, the interests of China completely coincide with the Russian ones. Accordingly, it would be strange for Moscow to expect support from Beijing. It is all the more strange to make claims to him about this - the power of any country is obliged to be guided by the national interests of this country, and not any other. In particular, Beijing both acted and will continue to act in Chinese, and not in Russian interests. These interests are completely different, so there is no union between us and there never will be. The only strange thing is that they do not understand this in the Kremlin. Here, by the way, almost completely repeated история with Russian-Turkish relations: For many years the Kremlin has managed to ignore the fact that the geopolitical interests of Moscow and Ankara (especially after Erdogan came to power) are not just different, but also diametrically opposed. And he managed to be very surprised downed by the Turks over Syria Su-24.
China has not shot down our plane. But perhaps this is the only difference between him and Turkey and is exhausted. And only for now.