US Sanctions Pushing China and Russia Closer Together

Amid sanctions on Russia by the US and other Western countries, Vladimir Putin is solidifying his economic relationship with China:

And while China remains on the sidelines in Ukraine, the deal with Moscow allows Beijing to signal its sharp disapproval of Western sanctions as a political tool to force Russia to change its policies.

“The Chinese have always been against sanctions on principle. They perceive that if the West can use this method to successfully pressure such a big country as Russia, then might not China be next?” says Mr. Salitsky. “So, they’re happy to join with Moscow to expand business in defiance of Washington.”

One of the unforeseen ripples in our political interactions with Russia is how our punitive sanctions affect Russia’s relationships with our other tenuous political and economic partners.

China, I’m sure, would love nothing more than to find a way to extricate itself from economic dependence on the United States. Over the last decade, China has invested in markets in India and Africa (and now Russia) to try to wean itself off of its market dependence on American consumers.

That dependence has been the only leverage the US has over China in all sorts of areas: maintaining the international supremacy of the dollar, convincing China to go along with the US in international coalitions, and maintaining the current level of US debt. China has been looking to replace the American market with other economic partners, so its growing relationship with Russia is quite alarming.

Should China and Russia develop a deeper economic and political relationship, it could seriously harm the US. Our international position continues to grow ever more tenuous. And it’s hard to know what can be done to fix this problem. Shrinking our dependence on Chinese goods and moving manufacturing back to the US is a long-term solution, but in the short-term it would be an economic disaster.