A report has suggested that cracks are appearing in the “special and unprecedented” ties between China and Russia over various issues – the major one being India’s suggestion that Moscow join the US-led Indo-Pacific grouping, which is widely seen as anti-China.
Although there are other issues which has China agitated – including differences on Vladivostok, sales of Russian arms to India and delays in the delivery of Russian missiles to Beijing – it now seems Russia’s arms sales to New Delhi has irked Chinese public soon after a deadly stand-off between Chinese and Indian troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
There has also been a suggestion that Washington wants to embrace its old Cold War adversary as a way of countering growing Chinese might.
“While fighting your opponent, how would you feel if your friend handed over a knife to your opponent?”, said one Chinese internet user.
However, Dmitry Stefanovich, a research fellow with the Centre for International Security at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of World Economy and International Relations, pointed out that Russia had been supplying arms to India since long before the clash in the Himalayas.
Another faultline appeared between Beijing and Moscow over the supply of Russia S-400 anti-aircraft missile system to China. In July, the Chinese websites NetEase and Sohu reported the deliveries had been “delayed” due to the coronavirus, but later Moscow said the deliveries had been “suspended”.
According to Russia’s TASS news agency, China received its first batch of S-400s in 2018 but further deliveries were suspended when Moscow accused Valery Mitko, president of the St Petersburg Arctic Social Sciences Academy, of spying for Beijing.
Divisions over Vladivostok are also a controversial issue between China and Russia. The Russian embassy, in July, caused an online backlash in China when it posted a video about the commemoration service for the city’s 160th anniversary.
Describing the S-400 suspension as an “intriguing development”, Derek Grossman, a senior defence analyst at a Washington think tank, said the suspension ran counter to the narrative that Sino-Russian security relations had strengthened in recent years.
“This strongly suggests that Moscow’s decision was in response to the [Himalayan] incident,” Grossman said.