By Hu Xijin (Global Times, 15 September 2020) – Accusations that “Moscow is supporting New Delhi” in the China-India confrontation have sparked controversy on the Chinese social media recently. The reason is that Russia signed a contract on July 2 to sell 33 new fighter jets to India. And Russia agreed to an earlier delivery of the S-400 air defense system that India demanded following the clash between Chinese and Indian troops in the Galwan Valley. Some articles online have said that Russia is stabbing China in the back.
It is true that Moscow is selling arms to New Delhi. It is understandable that some Chinese people are uncomfortable with such news. It would be encouraging if Russia could make trade-offs like this with better timing in order to avoid misunderstandings by Chinese. Meanwhile, exaggerating the issue to the point where Russia is helping India against China or taking India’s side is a hyperbole and total nonsense.
It is understandable that many online comments were easily influenced by what they saw because they do not understand the context of Russia-India relations. But the authors of these articles, who pretend to know something about international relations, are deliberately trying to stir up hostility between China and Russia.
Both China and Russia are major countries. While maintaining the comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era, the two countries also have comprehensive and diversified diplomatic interests of their own.
Russia and India are in traditional friendly relations. India is one of the largest long-term buyers of Russian arms. Selling weapons to India is of great significance to the development of the Russian military industry. Though India has increased its purchases of arms from the US in recent years, the largest part of India’s weaponry stockpile is “Made in Russia.” The arms deal between India and Russia is not targeted at the China-Indian border conflict. Any scholar of international relations in China is well aware of this fact.
Russia is actually serving as a mediator in this China-India border conflict. The meetings between the two countries’ foreign ministers and defense ministers last week were held in Moscow. I didn’t see any discussion outside of China that Moscow is favoring partially either Beijing or New Delhi. Besides, I don’t see any English-language reports that argue Russia is helping India against China. There are only vague comments that Russia is trying to strike a balance and hedge its bet on both sides. All the articles about Russia stabbing China in the back are written in Chinese. They are either from social networks on the Chinese mainland and in the island of Taiwan, or from cults like Falun Gong.
China and Russia are strategic partners. This is something both countries have maintained as their highest priorities. But we are partners, not allies. It is impossible and unfair to ask Russia to take sides with China in the China-Indian border conflict. The China-India issue needs to be resolved between China and India. Russia has done enough to remain neutral and serve as the mediator, causing no misunderstanding in the international community.
It is reasonable that Chinese people are still haunted by those historical memories when Tsarist Russia invaded and occupied Chinese territory. However, a handful of forces have gone too far to stir up hatred against Russia, and to argue that the strategic partnership between China and Russia is a mistake. They wrongly ask China to stand up against Russia for aged territorial claims. I cannot help to say that people with radical views of such ideas have malicious motives.
Frankly speaking, they are trying to damage China’s vital international strategic resources. They wish to push China into real isolation, and help the US achieve its strategic containment of China. Their behavior is completely different in nature from people with complex understandings about the history of China and Russia.
The truth is that both China and Russia are under pressure from the US, which is an important incentive for Beijing and Moscow to get and stay closer. In addition, Russia is the primary recipient of China’s good-neighborliness. With the development of China, friendship with China has also become more meaningful to Russia. The US has been wishing that China and Russia would turn against each other for some reason. To damage the relationship between China and Russia would be the most unwise strategic mistake that any of the two countries could and would make. I believe that most Chinese can figure this out with common sense. Anti-Russia propaganda online may somehow leave ripples but can hardly make waves. Why? Because China’s plain strategic intuition is well at work.
Some people have called me a Russophile. But I don’t care. What I care about the most is China’s national interests and Chinese people’s fundamental interests. I entered a military academy to study Russian in 1978. At that time, China-Soviet Union relations were tense. I remember the first three Russian sentences I learned, including one that means, “Put your hands up and the guns down, and we will not harm you.” China-Russia relations have grown out of the ruins of the old times. We must understand each other accurately and maintain this relation in this complex international environment.
By the way, China-Russia relations are not solely favored by China’s unilateral will. There are many voices in Russia. But Moscow has chosen to firmly protect China-Russia relations for the sake of its own fundamental interests. China-Russia relations are a gift of this era to peace and humanity.
The author is editor-in-chief of the Global Times. [email protected]