Mark A. Klassen is a final year masters student at the Department of Defense and Strategic Studies at Missouri State University. He intends to pursue a PhD before applying for a position within the government.
The Bear and the Dragon
By: Mark A. Klassen, 2006
The relationship that has existed between Russia and China has historically been one of mistrust spotted with anger, fear and resentment. Despite their communist ties during more than four decades of the twentieth century, Moscow and Beijing were, for the most part, only able to offer a superficial front of friendship that actually sometimes bordered on open hostility. Yet despite their past differences, the two nations are beginning to cooperate to an alarming degree in the areas of mutual economic growth via trade in fuel resources and arms. While China attempts to spring onto the world stage as a newly minted superpower capable of rivaling the United States, Russia struggles to regain that lost title. Both states are taking advantage of their newly formed cooperative alliance, making it one that threatens the world hegemony that the U.S. has enjoyed unchallenged for the past fifteen years.
Sixty years ago it would have seemed unlikely that such a cooperative working relationship between the two nations could flourish as it has. The problems that plagued the Sino-Soviet relationship through much of the latter half of the twentieth century began at the end of the Second World War. In the chaos that occurred after it declared war against Japan during the last few days of the conflict, Russia was able to occupy what had previously been Chinese territories such as Manchuria, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia. These territories had essentially been annexed by the Russian military and were now folded into the robes of the Soviet Union, much as Eastern Europe had been after Germany’s surrender.
After the establishment of the People’s Republic of China under the Communist party in 1949, China’s new leader, Mao Zedong, traveled to the Soviet Union to engage in two months of negotiations with his Soviet counterpart, Stalin. What emerged was the Treaty of Friendship, Alliance and Mutual Assistance, signed on 12 February 1950, which summarily allowed Russia to keep the territory it had occupied, much to the chagrin of Beijing which viewed the “compromise” as reminiscent of colonialism. Regardless, both nations made public overtures of friendship and camaraderie in the larger interests of presenting a unified Communist front.
Stalin and Mao continued to distrust one another, however, and that growing sense of antipathy was fueled in Beijing by the perception that Moscow was giving too little assistance and respect to its new communist comrade. Tensions rose between the two states until they had essentially separated themselves under the Khrushchev administration of the early 1960s due primarily to de-Stalinization, Russia’s lack of assistance to China in pursuing nuclear weapons, the aforementioned bitterness over territorial disputes and finally, as one author put it, “Khrushchev’s ‘revisionist’ theory of peaceful coexistence.” Tensions would continue to exist until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, although they eased a bit in the 1980s as Siberia’s natural resources began flowing southward across the border into China.
After the creation of the Russian Federation, both parties realized that they each had something to gain from a cooperative working relationship. China’s growing economy needed natural resources such as fuel while Russia needed capital. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, “the capital famine (in Russia)… resulted in ‘deindustrialization’, leaving its exports increasingly dependent upon the volatile markets for raw materials, metals, and especially energy resources.” It was a supply and demand relationship and both sides made plans to profit.
Both governments also realized that American interest in the area was waning and accordingly began to take steps to ensure that the U.S. presence and influence in the region would be marginalized in the future. In April of 1996 the two governments signed a border and security agreement along with Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. The treaty was meant to ensure friendship and nonaggression between the states and the organization became known as the “Shanghai Five.” With the inclusion of Uzbekistan in May of 2001, the organization became known as the “Shanghai Forum” or “Shanghai Cooperation Organization.”
Just five years later Moscow and Beijing signed their first exclusive treaty since 1950 called the Good Neighbor Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation which solidified both economic and military agreements. Accordingly, Russia and China have since begun to develop a lucrative fuel trade and have even conducted joint military exercises along their still disputed boundaries. What’s more, Russia has been supplying the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, Navy and Air Force with billions upon billions of dollars worth of equipment. It is a relationship that directly threatens and undermines America’s grand strategy as each nation strives to attain a superpower status capable of rivaling that of the United States.
FUELING A MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia has been in a seemingly endless state of repair. The monumental tasks of restructuring the economy and undertaking such ambitious pursuits as rebuilding and reforming the military require a great deal of capital. Russia is using the large-scale exportation of its natural resources, such as oil and natural gas, to acquire this. The Russian organization that dominates the sale of Russian natural gas on foreign markets is Gazprom, of which the Russian government holds 38.37% of all stock. In fact, the company was created at the behest of the Russian government in 1991. An article published in an issue of a Russian journal called International Affairs, declares that “Gazprom has defined two strategic goals: to become a global energy company and to further increase in capitalization.” It further states that three of the steps in the pursuit of this strategy involve “gaining access to new geographical markets (Great Britain, the U.S., the Asia Pacific Region)”, “expanding the Company’s presence in sales to end customers” and “developing economic efficiency.”
Of the three markets mentioned, the one that is most likely to become a fuel-dependent client is the Asia Pacific Region and Russia intends to focus efforts on the People’s Republic of China. In October of 2005 the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party approved the draft 11th Five-Year Plan which called for an estimated 45% increase in GDP by 2010. Considering that Chinese GDP grew at an estimated real growth rate of 9.2% in 2005 alone, this seems like an astonishingly realistic objective.
Despite the economy’s growth, and in fact in part because of it, China’s fuel consumption to production ratio is grossly inefficient. Political economist Wenran Jiang, from the University of Alberta, estimated in 2005 that “China spends three times the world average on energy… to produce $1 of gross domestic product.” While the draft 11th Five-Year Plan also calls for a 20% decrease in fuel consumption per unit of GDP by 2010, the fact remains that China will need large-scale fuel imports if it wishes to sustain its growing economy.
As one analysis that was prepared for the United States military in 2000 noted, “The gap between domestic supply and demand has meant that the Chinese government must look abroad for energy resources, abandoning its traditional goal of energy self-sufficiency.” However, in keeping with Maoist doctrine, China’s idea of self-reliance is not defined strictly as “total independence,” but instead implies the ability to “keep the initiative in one’s own hands.” Russia has the same objective, thus defining the delicate relationship between the two countries as they create an awkward relationship while both striving for economic gain.
China began to import most of its oil around 1993. At around that time, China was importing approximately 2.4 million barrels per day. The United States Energy Department estimates that number will increase to 8.4 million by 2030. This means a consumption increase of roughly 22% or approximately 300,000 barrels each year. Despite this rapid growth, China will still rely on oil for only about 20% of its primary energy consumption. President Hu Jintao’s has called for increasing oil’s role in the Chinese economy from 3% to 10% by the year 2020. This would also allow for a lesser dependency on coal which currently accounts for approximately 65% of China’s fuel consumption and is much less efficient. President Hu Jintao’s plan also calls for the construction of thirty new nuclear reactors.
China’s fuel inefficiency is costing it dearly. According to one investment journal, “The World Bank figures inefficient fuel use is costing China upwards of $120 billion in lost industrial output annually and health costs related to pollution. Not even fast-growing China can afford the long-term bills that will come from the way it burns through energy.” This tremendous need for fuel couples nicely with Russia’s ambitions to expand its oil and gas exports for the sake of earning revenue that could then be invested in strengthening the Russian economy and eventually rearming its military. What’s more, Gazprom has stated:
We believe that the time has come to implement the long-discussed plans for Russia’s access to the energy market of the Asia Pacific Region… The most promising market for Russian pipeline gas in this region is China, to which deliveries via major gas pipelines could begin as early as 2010…Russian hydrocarbon resources are abundant and strategically located in such a way that integrated projects in this sphere could be economically viable. Gazprom is capable of meeting China’s demands for energy sources and taking part in all stages of the chain from exploration and production to processing and distribution. What is more, Gazprom’s flexibility as an energy supplier makes it a desirable partner for the Chinese side of every type of energy market: gas, oil, refined petroleum products, and the production and distribution of electric power.
Negotiations are currently underway to create the necessary infrastructure for this.
While Russia is striving to increase its fuel exportation around the world, it is not willing to do so if it means allowing foreign entities direct access to the resources. While it has taken advantage of foreign contractors to provide assistance on peripheral matters, such as some of the more technical aspects of efficient extraction, direct acquisition and selling of these resources by foreign companies has been forbidden. In fact, in February of 2005 Russia’s Natural Resources Minister, Yuri Trutnev, announced that a company must be at least 51% Russian-owned if it wished to bid on any of the six major oil and gas projects slated for the future. This eliminated competition from such multinational joint ventures as British Petroleum. Allowing only domestic access to this vast and potentially very lucrative resource is intended to ensure economic growth and assist in boosting Russia’s gross national product.
The growth of Russia’s oil industry over the past few years has been phenomenal thanks in large part to more careful and efficient drilling techniques and a high global demand. In March of 2002, Russia temporarily regained the title of being the world’s largest oil producer, a title that it had not been able to claim since the 1980s. In 2004, 75% of the growth in oil production from non-OPEC nations was attributed to Russia. The climax of production growth, however, occurred in 2003 at an annual rate of 12% before easing to the three year average of 8% in 2004 and a dramatic reduction to just over 4.5% the following year.
Russia is also expanding its westward exportation as well. In December of 2001 the Baltic Pipeline System came online and began carrying approximately one million bbl/d from the Timan-Pechora and West Siberian oil provinces to the Russian port of Primorsk. This development now provides Russia with direct access to northern Europe’s oil markets and allows it to reduce its dependency on Soviet-era transit routes through Eastern European states.
Despite this growth trend, however, Russia is unable to reach its oil exporting potential without a dramatic increase in outside capital to invest in its infrastructure and reorganize its management. As market analyst Jim Jubak noted in April of 2005, “Russia is sitting on as much as 200 billion barrels of oil, the equivalent of five Libyas, but that oil will stay in the ground without foreign investment.” For example, as of 2005 only approximately 3.8% of the oil reserves in eastern Siberia had been mapped out and prepared for drilling operations. These fields cannot be pumped, however, until the necessary infrastructure is put in place.
The source of this investment may actually come from Chinese interests. This capital could then be used to further expand production and exportation to China, allowing for even greater investment. In other words, China finds itself in a position in which it is starved for fuel and the more that it invests in Russia, the more it will likely get in return.
Moscow may be trying to gain leverage on China via economic dependency. If China grows too reliant upon Russian fuel imports, Moscow will find itself more capable of influencing Beijing on any number of issues, particularly border disputes or China’s pro-Pakistani position. Russia has proven it is not averse to the tactic. Russian pipelines to Ukraine and Moldova were shut down after Moscow demanded a higher price, ending a longstanding tradition of “subsidized gas sales.” In addition, pipelines in the Republic of Georgia mysteriously exploded on January 22, 2006 following a similar debate. It is possible that the explosions, which Moscow attributed to unidentified Chechen terrorists, were intended to send a message that Georgia should stay uninvolved with the Chechen situation just northeast of its border.
A large aspect of the role that natural resources play in Russia’s strategic design seems to be gaining political clout through a sort of economic blackmail. As two journalists noted in an article that was published in The Wall Street Journal in January of 2006:
… Moscow’s high-handed behavior toward pro-Western governments such as Georgia’s has added to worries that the Kremlin is using Russia’s vast energy reserves as a political lever. They fear that gas has become a means for Russia to reward regimes it views as loyal and punish those it views as too independent.
While such tactics may prove to be of at least limited use against some of Russia’s less powerful neighbors, it may also prove to be a dangerous game of manipulation and coercion with its relatively powerful neighbor, China. However, complete independence is unlikely due to the increasing abundance of technology in China that cannot be fueled by nuclear energy. For example, as the financial journal Business Week noted in 2005, “By 2020, vehicles on (China’s) roads are expected to swell from 24 million now to 100 million.” It is also noted that under such circumstances, “transportation will account for 60% of China’s energy use, up from 33% now.” So, it is unlikely China will no longer depend on Russia for at least some of its fuel needs even after it builds its new nuclear reactors.
The argument could also be made that Russia wouldn’t dare play such manipulative games with China in light of the PRC’s substantial military and its potential use to dissuade any coercive attempts. It seems unlikely, however, that Beijing will be able to credibly deter Moscow when it comes to fuel negotiations due to a possible showdown with the U.S. over Taiwan and given Russia’s potential for future military buildup and restructuring (thanks in large part to the revenues that will be made from exports to China). Such threats from China would also undermine the strategic theater alliance that both sides seem determined to establish, as the world bore witness to when the two nations performed joint military exercises in the summer of 2005.
If China does not import its fuel from land lines originating in Russia, it must rely upon the sea lanes that run from the Middle East to the South China Sea and are, for the most part, dominated by the American Navy. Many Chinese analysts correctly perceive that the United States is growing increasingly uneasy about China’s emerging status and fear that the U.S. could use its dominance over these vital sea lanes to put a stranglehold on Chinese fuel imports, thereby holding the economy hostage and employing a very effective form of deterrence and / or coercion. In a worst case scenario, such as war with the U.S., reliance upon seaborne fuel imports in conjunction with a superior U.S. navy would likely mean total fuel strangulation. However, by turning to Russia and employing its land-based fuel lines, Beijing can feel that its fuel imports are more secure.
ARMS SALES TO CHINA
In the past decade and a half, Moscow has sold hundreds of billions of dollars in weapons systems to the Chinese military. As a report to Congress on the military capabilities of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) stated in July of 2002, “The official Chinese military budget is $20 billion. But the actual money invested could be as much as four or five times greater." China’s “official budget” for the military only entails “basic training, troop pay, and operations and readiness (O&M) expenses.” The rest of its expenses, such as procurement, are mixed with and concealed by other parts of the government’s state and provincial budgets.
The Central Intelligence Agency estimates that China’s total yearly defense expenditures are actually closer to 67.49 billion USD. This is 4.3 percent of the Chinese GDP and much of it is going to arms purchases from the state-run Russian defense industry. As Chinese armed forces specialist You Ji notes in his book, The Armed Forces of China, “The former enemy has now turned out to be an indispensable source of supply of advanced military technology, something no less than a sudden windfall presented at China’s door.”
The long-term strategy of the PLA is to modernize and increase the strength of its military through indigenous means. However, China has put military modernization behind other more pressing initiatives such as industry, science and technology, and agriculture (all of which Beijing believes will ultimately facilitate military might). The PLA is seeking to equip itself with interim weapons systems that will allow Beijing to assert its regional influence and pose a credible deterrent to the United States in the event of a conflict in the relatively near future. This was certainly on the minds of Chinese diplomats when the first five-year military cooperation agreement was signed with Russia in 1993, covering not only the sale of weapons but also personnel exchanges, training and logistical support. Due to Beijing’s desire to maintain a credible force while undertaking a long-term transformation of its indigenous defense industry, the arms sales relationship between Russia and China will likely prove to be a longstanding and lucrative one. By selling the PLA a combination of its old equipment as well as some of its newest developments, the Russian defense industry is slowly finding the capital that it has been seeking to rebuild its military.
In light of a looming conflict with the United States in the Straits of Taiwan, China has been actively seeking to improve upon its bluewater capabilities. China is also beginning to recognize the value of a large and capable navy in peacetime as well. Vice Admiral Cheng Mingshang, who serves as the vice commander-in-chief of the Chinese naval forces, made a public statement in 1991 that seemed to echo the thoughts of the great western naval strategists such as Alfred Thayer Mahan. The admiral was recorded as saying that:
The navy is the tool of big powers’ foreign policy. Compared with the army and air force, which cannot go beyond the national boundaries, an international navy can project its presence far away from home. It can even appear in the sea close to the coastline of potential opponents. While this demonstration of power constitutes a high level of deterrence, it does not provide any formal excuse for the target countries to protest. Such a function of projecting power has made the navy a most active strategic force in peace time, a pillar for foreign policy initiatives and an embodiment of a country’s will and power.”
Russia has been only too happy to provide the assistance necessary to help China achieve its naval ambitions. China purchased two Sovremenny class destroyers in 1996 for the combined price of eight billion U.S. dollars. This class of destroyer displaces approximately 7,900 tons and is considered the best destroyer ever designed by the Soviet Union, “comparable to the U.S. Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class (8300 tonnes) and the Japanese Kongo-class (8400 tonnes).” Its fire capabilities include eight supersonic, medium-range, active-homing SS-N-22 Sunburn anti-ship missiles with a range of 90-120 kilometers and a top speed of 2.5 mach.
The Sunburn weapon system also features a “downlink terminal seeker that can be programmed to manoeuvre and select a carrier in a naval battle group, and can evade the U.S. Aegis / Standard RIM-67 equipped cruisers and destroyers that protect U.S. carriers.” From a defensive aspect, the ship also features an air defense system similar to that of the Aegis technology and is therefore capable of addressing multiple air threats at once with digital, short to medium range, fast-reload missile launchers.
China also purchased the aircraft carrier Minsk from Russia, thereby signaling its entry into naval aviation. China has also purchased four Kilo-class attack submarines which could potentially be used to attack an American carrier battle group. While they are diesel powered, as opposed to the United States Navy’s nuclear powered boats, they are among the world’s quietest, making them more difficult to detect and / or track. They are also armed with both wire-guided and wake-homing torpedoes which the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence has described as being particularly effective because of their ability to ignore acoustic ship defense measures.
Russia is supplying the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) with aircraft as well. China has purchased ten IL-76 heavy-lift cargo planes from Russia, enabling it to quickly move men and equipment outside its borders. In 1994, the PLAAF also received its first shipment of twenty-four Russian Su-27 Flanker long-range fighter aircraft. By the year 2000 more than fifty Su-27s had been purchased and plans made for more than another two hundred to be either delivered directly from Russia or produced under contract within China.
The Su-27 is the first long-range, heavy fighter aircraft of the so-called “third generation” in aircraft development to enter into service with the Chinese Air Force. Its powerplant is a set of twin turbofan engines, each rated at 122.6 kilonewtons and capable of afterburner flight. The aircraft can reach a maximum speed of 2.35 mach while at its operations altitude and 1.1 mach at sea level. Its versatility allows the PLAAF to use it in a variety of air operations to include long-range bomber escort, air interceptor, ground attack, theatre bombing, and electronic warfare. It can also be modified to operate onboard China’s latest carrier additions, such as the Minsk. With a range of approximately 4,000 kilometers without refueling, the Su-27 would have no problems performing these missions over Taiwan or elsewhere in the region.
While the PLAAF undergoes a transition from its old aircraft to Russian replacements and finally to indigenous production of its own more advanced platforms, it finds itself in need of what one author refers to as “a ‘quick fix’ to lessen the pressure of the ‘transitional vacuum’.” For the Chinese military this has warranted the purchase of large amounts of surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) from Russia. In fact, inclusive to the very first Chinese-Russian arms deal was the purchase of six batteries of S300 SAMs. The type purchased by the Chinese was the S300PMU-1. With its range of 150 kilometers and 143Kilogram HE Frag warhead, it is considered to be one of the best surface-to-air systems in the world. China has also purchased over one hundred Russian made SA-10 and SA-7 missiles as well. Included in the purchase of the S300 batteries may have been a number of SA-10b and SA-12 missiles. They are long-range SAMs with distances of 90 and 150 kilometers respectively. These weapons would allow the PLAAF to strike at an enemy’s command and control AWACS from greater distances.
The Chinese have mastered the art of reverse engineering and it is a skill that they have been applying freely to their Russian purchases. Accordingly, “thanks to the Russian connection, China can leapfrog over obsolete intermediate technologies, developing state-of-the-art military capabilities comparable to those of the U.S. in a decade or less.” However, China has not had to rely solely upon reverse engineering. An estimated 10,000 Russian scientists, engineers and technicians are currently working within China’s military-industrial system and by all accounts that number is increasing. Many of the original emigrants were unemployed specialists who found themselves without a job after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
However, while China may hold the purse strings, Russia controls the product and, despite the fact that both sides continue to explore future arms sales possibilities, Russia’s state-run defense industry may choose to regulate its transfers more stringently. Russia is by no means obligated to provide the PLA with the best of what it can produce. Furthermore, Moscow is likely betting that, in the future, its research and development programs will no longer rely so heavily on foreign investment.
If Russian research and development were to reach such a level of self-sustained funding, Moscow might choose to cease its arms sales to Beijing. Given the relatively fickle nature of Sino-Russian relations and the fact that China may once again rise to be a competitor to Russia, this may prove to be a prudent course of action. For the time being at least, this seems to be a gamble that the Kremlin is willing to take in light of its own desperate search for capital.
In attempting to undermine the strategic partnership that is quickly developing between Moscow and Beijing, it may behoove U.S. strategists to focus on the lynchpin of the cooperative setup: China’s economy. It stands to reason that if the cooperation is credited to China’s quickly growing economy which is, in turn, providing capital with which to not only purchase weapons from Russia, but also support Russian research and development programs, a retardation in China’s economic growth would impact all of the above side-effects. However, the United States is itself a major contributor to China’s growing economy. Therefore, if the U.S. intends to subvert the Sino-Russian relationship by hindering China’s economic growth to the greatest degree possible, it must find ways to reduce its own dependence on Chinese consumer goods.
The United States currently receives approximately 13.8 % of its import goods from China. That equates to about 238.32 billion dollars per year (three times China’s estimated defense budget) and places China as the United States’ second largest import partner. The U.S., on the other hand, is China’s number one export partner with over 21.1% of its total exports shipped to America. If the U.S. were to reduce its imports from China by as much as one-third, it could put a good deal of pressure on Beijing to find a supplemental income elsewhere.
In a purely economic sense, the less that the United States imports from China, the slower the Chinese economy will grow. This would lead to less capital, and indeed less need, to import Russian oil and natural gas into China, hindering Russia’s economy as well as a major source of its revenue began to dissipate. Overall, a slowing economy and a tighter budget would also lead to less military expenditure and less funding for Russian research and development. It is possible that China could rearrange its budget to compensate for the reduction, depending on its internal and external priorities, but it would be a difficult task and would still likely result in fewer yuan being converted into rubles to finance Russia’s defense research and development.
From an American domestic perspective, this means offering incentives such as tax breaks to companies that produce and / or domestically manufacture products. Such incentives must be strong enough to compensate for the cheap cost of labor that is found in China. Restrictions must also be placed upon foreign investments in American industry from Chinese owned companies. Finally, the U.S. must regulate its exportation of raw materials to China which uses these goods to produce consumer-goods, the basis of its market economy.
Such regulations would resemble sanctions and would likely face livid opposition from Beijing. They could also be met with similar restrictions from Beijing being placed upon foreign investment which would certainly hurt the American and global economies as well. Some might even argue that such actions counter global entrepreneurship and therefore contradict the principles of American capitalism. Yet the reality is that both China and Russia pose serious threats to the pursuit of America’s grand strategy. This important fact ought to be kept at the forefront of strategic thinking, always lingering in the minds of America’s economic and military strategists. Drastic measures must be taken on the battlefields of economics lest we should be forced to make them on the battlefields of war.
The threat that the strengthening Russian-Chinese alliance poses to American strategic and security interests is a very real one that must not be underestimated. As China’s economy quickly grows, it is in desperate need of natural resources with which to fuel its expansion. At the same time, Russia seeks customers to which it can export its vast amounts of oil and natural gas and who will be able to invest in its further extraction. It is a convenient pairing for both nations wherein the more that China invests in Russia’s oil and natural gas, the more it will get in return. As a result, China’s economy is provided with the lifeblood that it needs to grow and Russia is compensated with much needed capital which it can use to restructure its struggling economy and invest in certain enterprises such as its state-run defense industry. Both nations therefore are provided with the catalysts they require to strengthen their economies which are the foundations of any aspiring superpower.
Moscow and Beijing’s apparent military cooperation also threatens America’s grand strategy and security interests in both direct and indirect ways. Recent joint-military exercises represent a unified front to the United States, discouraging any American military intervention in the event of future Chinese aggression against Taiwan. Russia and China have also conspired to offer security agreements with their Central Asian neighbors by forming collective alliances such as the Shanghai Forum.
Finally, Russia has provided the PLA with a multitude of sophisticated weapons through more than a decade of arms agreements. These weapons systems are being used to expand China’s military and prepare it for a potential showdown with the U.S. in the event of a conflict over Taiwanese independence. At the same time, it buys the Chinese defense industry more time with which to improve upon its own indigenous capabilities. As with Beijing’s investment in Russian natural resources, the more that China invests into Russian research and development programs, the more it is likely to get in return. Russia is able to use the capital that it earns from selling high-tech aircraft, ships and surface-to-air missiles to fund its own defense industry efforts and the development of even more sophisticated weaponry. This is critical if Russia wishes to someday update its own military.
While it may prove difficult, the United States must make every effort to subvert this cooperative alliance by undermining the growth of the Chinese economy. Economic sacrifices must be made if the U.S. does not wish to see the emergence of either of these two states as rival powers. Tensions still exist over border disputes in East Asia and the two nations have a long history of distrust. Yet, at least for the time being, Russia and China have entered into a lukewarm friendship in which both parties have nothing to lose and everything to gain as they each strive to attain a superpower status capable of challenging the United States.
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