ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Vistas of China-Russia Partnership

Same Bed, Similar Dreams

China and Russia have put aside their old animosities and are seeking to strengthen their relationship very pragmatically. The recent visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Moscow marked a new phase in China-Russia relations.

The Chinese have an old saying, “Dream different dreams while on the same bed” – meaning even the closest partners are never alike in their minds. It is tempting to encapsulate China-Russia relations – officially described as “comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination and cooperation” – in the spirit of the Chinese proverb. However, the recent state visit by China’s newly elected president Xi Jinping to Moscow underscores the fallacy of such an enigmatic characterisation. Put differently, there is growing similarity today between the respective Chinese and Russian dreams.

The earliest signs that the two countries were contemplating moving into the same bed appeared as far back as 2001 during the visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Beijing when he and then Chinese President Jiang Zemin signed the historic Treaty of Good-Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation Between the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation. The two statesmen conclusively laid at rest a deeply convoluted relationship, which through corridors of time assumed many an avatar. Hardly two centuries ago, in Chinese eyes Russia was an imperial power with predatory instincts that kept gobbling up vast chunks of its territories, only to become by the middle of the last century a mentor, guide and a guardian, and when in the second half unrolled, almost became an ally. Then by a quirk of fate, it became an adversary and before anyone could notice, an implacable enemy. Indeed, China-Russia ties have a difficult and tumultuous history.

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