Russia VS China

In World War 2 China was on the side of the allies, and Japan was on Germany’s side. After the end of WW2 the communists of Mao Zedong won the national socialists of Chiang Kai-shek at the Chinese civil war, and the national socialists were left with Taiwan, in which they declared their own state. Till this day Taiwan is a separate country with very problematic relations with China. See map 1.

Picture 1

Map of China Taiwan

http://www.taiwanese-secrets.com/image-files/china-taiwan-map.001.jpg

The communists introduced a dictatorship in China, and the national socialists introduced a dictatorship in Taiwan. However in order to confront China, the national socialists had to align themselves with the West, and gradually they were forced to democratize Taiwan. Today Taiwan is a western type democracy.

In the first years of the Second World War, the relations between China and Russia were satisfactory, but very soon many problems arose. One of the problems between Russia and China is India. India is a Russian ally but a major rival for China. Therefore China became an ally of Pakistan, which was India’s other major rival. However Pakistan was an ally of the US and the Arabs of the Persian Gulf. Actually when the Russians invaded Afghanistan in 1979, in order to back the pro-Soviet communist government, China, together with the US, the Saudis and the Pakistanis, were training the Afghan Mujahideen, in order to fight the Afghan communists who were supported by the Indians and the Russians.

Actually, as you can read at the following Wikipedia link, titled “Competing Hegemonies”, the Chinese were training Mujahideen even within China.

6th and 7th Paragraphs

China and Afghanistan had neutral relations with each other during the King’s rule. When the pro Soviet Afghan Communists seized power in Afghanistan in 1978, relations between China and the Afghan communists quickly turned hostile. The Afghan pro Soviet communists supported China’s enemies in Vietnam and blamed China for supporting Afghan anti communist militants. China responded to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan by supporting the Afghan Mujahidin and ramping up their military presence near Afghanistan in Xinjiang.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sino-Soviet_split#Competing_hegemonies

However in other geographic locations the Chinese and the Soviets were cooperating, as was the case in Vietnam, where both of them were supporting the communists of North Vietnam, and the US and their allies were supporting South Vietnam. Finally the communists won the war and they took control of the whole country in 1975. During the Korean War in the 50s, the Russian and the Chinese were both supporting the North Koreans, while the US was supporting South Korea.

Besides India, the very long borders between China and the Soviet Union were another factor of distrust between the two communist neighbors. For the Sino-Soviet borders see map 2

Picture 2

Sino-Soviet Borders

Until 1991 the countries of Central Asia were members of the Soviet Union, and they were controlled by Russia. Therefore the oil reserves of Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, and the natural gas reserves of Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, were also controlled by Russia. As you can see at the following two maps, from Columbia University and the Energy Information Administration, most of the oil and natural gas of the Soviet Union was located in Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and West Siberia.

Picture 3

Map of Oil and Natural Gas Fields in the Middle East

http://gulf2000.columbia.edu/images/maps/Oil_and_Oil_Facilities_lg.jpg

Picture 4

Map of Russian Oil and Gas Fields

http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=18051

As you can see from map 4, today 89% of the Russian natural gas, and 62% of the Russian oil, are produced in West Siberia. After 1991 the countries of Central Asia gained their independence. Note that 90% of the inhabitants of Central Asia i.e. Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgystan, are Muslims of Turkic origins, and there was no reason why the communists of the Soviet Union, and not the communists of China, should control their oil and gas. As you can read at the following Wikipedia article, titled “Competing Hegemonies”, the Soviets were moving more and more soldiers and air crafts near their borders with China i.e. at the borders with Xinjiang, which borders Central Asia. Obviously the Soviets were worried about a Chinese invasion in Central Asia.  See map 5. Note that the map show some existing and some proposed pipelines which are irrelevant with what I am talking about now.

1st and 2nd Paragraphs

Meanwhile, during 1968, the Soviet Army had amassed along the 4,380 km (2,738 mi.) border with China—especially at the Xinjiang frontier, in north-west China, where the Soviets might readily induce Turkic separatists to insurrection. Militarily, in 1961, the USSR had 12 divisions and 200 aeroplanes at that border; in 1968, there were 25 divisions, 1,200 aeroplanes, and 120 medium-range missiles. Furthermore, although China had detonated its first nuclear weapon (the 596 Test), in October 1964, at Lop Nur basin, the People’s Liberation Army was militarily inferior to the Red Army.[23]

By March 1969, Sino-Russian border politics became the Sino-Soviet border conflict at the Ussuri River and onDamansky–Zhenbao Island; more small-scale warfare occurred at Tielieketi in August. In The Coming War Between Russia and China (1969), US journalist Harrison Salisbury reported that Soviet sources implied a possible first strikeagainst the Lop Nur basin nuclear weapons testing site.[23]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sino-Soviet_split#Border_war

Picture 5

Xinjiang 2

China could move towards West Siberia too, because West Siberia is located after the Ural Mountains, which is Russia’s shield at her eastern flank. That’s why the Soviets had many military units stationed at Mongolia, which at the time was a communist country aligned with the Soviet Union. The Soviet military units at the Chinese borders were supposed to prevent the Chinese from moving towards Central Asia and West Siberia. That was something that annoyed the Chinese, as you can read at the following Wikipedia article, titled “Competing hegemonies”. The Chinese wanted the Soviets to withdraw their military from Mongolia.

3rd Paragraph

In December 1979, the USSR invaded the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan to sustain the Afghan Communist government. The PRC viewed the Soviet invasion as a local feint, within Russia’s greater geopolitical encirclement of China. In response, the PRC entered a tri-partite alliance with the U.S. and Pakistan, to sponsorIslamist Afghan armed resistance to the Soviet Occupation (1979–89). (cf. Operation Storm-333) Meanwhile, the Sino-Soviet split became manifest when Deng Xiaoping, the paramount leader of China, required the removal of “three obstacles” so that Sino-Soviet relations might improve:

1)The massed Soviet Army at the Sino-Soviet border, and in Mongolia.

2)Soviet support of the Vietnamese occupation of Kampuchea (Cambodia).

3)The Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sino-Soviet_split#Competing_hegemonies

From all the above it is obvious that Russia’s interests are aligned with the ones of NATO and the EU, because no one can guarantee to the Russians that in the following decades the Chinese will not move towards West Siberia. If it wasn’t for their rivalry with the US, the Chinese and the Russians would probably have very problematic relations. And that becomes even worse if it is taken into account that the people of Siberia are talking about autonomy or even independence. Who would be a better patron than China for them in the next decades? See also “Russia vs Siberia”.

https://iakal.wordpress.com/2015/07/28/russia-vs-siberia/

And as I said West Siberia is after the Ural Mountains, as you can see at the following map.

Picture 6

Map of Ural Mountains

http://media.web.britannica.com/eb-media/41/89941-050-51B0953D.gif

Russia belongs to NATO, and her interests are totally aligned with the ones of the US and the EU. Russia must supply Europe with oil and natural gas, and also provide Europe with military protection, so that the US can focus on China, which will be its main rival in the 21st Century. If Russia is a member of NATO she will be able to make sure that the Russian reserves in West Siberia remain under Russian control in the next decades, because with NATO’s help Russia will be able to face China, even if she has to fight after the Ural Mountains.

Another problem in the Sino-Russian relations is that the region of Manchuria is on the East Sino-Soviet borders. Manchuria is very rich in coal, iron, and many other raw materials. You can see Manchuria at the following map.

Picture 7

Manchuria Map

http://go.hrw.com/venus_images/0531MC23.gif

The mini war between the Soviets and the Chinese in 1969 took place in the region of Manchuria. You can read about it at the following Wikipedia link, titled “Border Wars”.

1st and 2nd Paragraps

Meanwhile, during 1968, the Soviet Army had amassed along the 4,380 km (2,738 mi.) border with China—especially at the Xinjiang frontier, in north-west China, where the Soviets might readily induce Turkic separatists to insurrection. Militarily, in 1961, the USSR had 12 divisions and 200 aeroplanes at that border; in 1968, there were 25 divisions, 1,200 aeroplanes, and 120 medium-range missiles. Furthermore, although China had detonated its first nuclear weapon (the 596 Test), in October 1964, at Lop Nur basin, the People’s Liberation Army was militarily inferior to the Red Army.[23]

By March 1969, Sino-Russian border politics became the Sino-Soviet border conflict at the Ussuri River and onDamansky–Zhenbao Island; more small-scale warfare occurred at Tielieketi in August. In The Coming War Between Russia and China (1969), US journalist Harrison Salisbury reported that Soviet sources implied a possible first strikeagainst the Lop Nur basin nuclear weapons testing site.[23]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sino-Soviet_split#Border_war

Manchuria was one of the main causes of conflict between the Chinese and the Japanese. Japan is an industrialized country but very poor in resources, and the Japanese thought that they could solve this problem by acquiring the resource rich Manchuria. Japan invaded Manchuria in 1931, and left only after her defeat at the end of WW2. For the Japanese invasion of Manchuria see “Japanese invasion of Manchuria”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_invasion_of_Manchuria

For all the above reasons the USSR and China started competing for influence over the countries that were run by communist dictatorships. At the following Wikipedia map you can see with red the communist countries which were aligned with USSR and with yellow the ones aligned with China.

Picture 8

Map of Communist CountriesCommunist Countries

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sino-Soviet_split#/media/File:Sino-Soviet_split_1980.svg

As you can see at the map, under Soviet control was Mongolia, Vietnam, Laos, Ethiopia, Angola, Mozambique, the Republic of Congo, Cuba, and the countries of Eastern Europe i.e. Poland, Rumania etc. Under Chinese control were Somalia, and Albania. The ones with black are the non-aligned communists countries i.e. former Yugoslavia at the Balkans, and North Korea in Asia. Actually during the war between Ethiopia and Somalia in 1977, the Soviets were supporting the Ethiopians and the Chinese were supporting the Somali, and during the civil war in Angola the Soviets and the Chinese were again supporting different parties.

Note that one should not confuse the communist countries of the above map with the socialist dictatorships of the Middle East and North Africa. In the Middle East and North Africa there were socialist dictators who were Soviet allies i.e. Qadaffi in Libya and Sadam Hussein in Iraq, but they did not tolerate communists in their countries, because the communists wanted these countries to become Soviet satellites, and not Soviet allies, and that would give the Soviets control of the oil in these countries. And there was the strange phenomenon that the socialist dictators who were soviet allies were oppressing local communists, and the Soviets would not react.

After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Soviets lost Central Asia, and things became easier between China and Russia. The two countries improved their relations, and today they are allies. However Russia does not like the big Chinese influence in Central Asia. China is the big investor in the countries of Central Asia and buys most of their oil and natural gas, and has substituted Russia as the dominant power. Russia accepts this situation because China prevents the oil and gas of Central Asia to go to Europe and compete with the oil and natural gas of Russia. But it is a sure thing that Russia does not like the growing Chinese influence in Central Asia. Moreover Central Asia is located underneath West Siberia.

To conclude I will say that relations between Russia and China have been restored after 1991, but I will insist that Russia’s interests are next to NATO and the EU. The problem is that for that to happen Russia must become a democratic country, like the other countries of the European Union. Only then Russia could have the first role in Europe. However Putin is turning Russia to a fascist country, and it is possible that in the 21st Century Russia will become for China what Saudi Arabia was for the US in the 20th Century i.e. Russia will supply oil and gas to China, and China will supply Russia with arms. Because it is a sure thing that China will soon be a much greater arms producer than Russia.

Another great problem for Russia’s democratization is that the Russians were never free. Freedom came for the Russians together with the economic collapse of 1991, and therefore the Russians are confused. They do not appreciate their freedom much because they confuse it with the economic collapse and pauperization. Therefore it is not very difficult to turn the Russian people towards socialism, especially when the media are controlled by the state, as it is the case with Putin’s Russia.

I must also say that in 2014 Russia and China signed an agreement for the construction of two massive pipelines, which will carry Russian natural gas to China. See the following map. However it remains to be seen if the two countries will manage to construct these two pipelines. Many analysts say that the costs are too high, and that it is very difficult to construct pipelines in the unfriendly environment of Siberia.

Picture 9

Power of Siberia and Altai Pipeline

For the Sino-Soviet conflict see

“Sino-Soviet Split”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sino-Soviet_split#Border_war

Picture 10

USSR China Globe

http://amur-heilong.net/map/005maps/images/image/amur_world2.JPG

5 thoughts on “Russia VS China”

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