INTERNATIONAL

China, Russia step up ties to face U.S. pivot

China and Russia are swiftly reinforcing their military ties to counter the “Asia Pivot” of the United States, widely seen as a military doctrine in the Asia-Pacific to contain Beijing’s growing international stature.

Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, during a visit to the Chinese capital, minced no words on Wednesday in his assertion that Beijing and Moscow have “expressed concern about the U.S. attempts to strengthen its military and political influence in the Asia-Pacific region”.

Under the framework of its “Asia Pivot,” Washington is strengthening its military presence along China’s periphery through fresh deployments chiefly in Japan, South Korea, Australia and the Philippines.

Joint exercise

Russia and China will hold joint military exercises in the Pacific Ocean next year, closer to the Chinese mainland and in the Mediterranean Sea, Mr. Shoigu said.

Analysts say that the manoeuvres in the Mediterranean will reinforce Beijing and Moscow’s common understanding not to permit U.S.-led “regime change” in countries such as Syria and Lebanon.

Mr. Shoigu also asserted in Beijing, the headquarters of the Shanghai Cooperative Organisation (SCO), that Russia and China visualise establishing a collective security force in the region.

Both countries, emerging as the core defenders of Eurasia, are acutely concerned about the escalating threat of terrorism radiating from Afghanistan, which is likely to experience a military power vacuum following the bulk troop withdrawal of NATO forces from Kabul.

Beijing and Moscow see counter-terrorism cooperation by the SCO countries, which include Central Asia, as part of the solution.

In an address last week, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev warned that growing tensions over Ukraine are threatening a new Cold War between Russia and the West.

Russia on Wednesday also came out in stout defence of China in its handling of the situation in Hong Kong. Russian media quoted Deputy Defence Minister, Anatoly Antonov as saying: “We have taken note of the events that recently took place in Hong Kong and the two Ministers acknowledged that not a single country can feel insured against colour revolutions.”

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