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Asia and Pacific

China, Russia, and the US in a World of Changing Intelligences

The anniversary of the Ukraine-Russia war stormed social media in February, as the month of “love” ended; however, as the third month of 2023 approached, United State’s national security erupted with a new “mysterious” white balloon flying across North America.

The challenging relationship with China and the United States has been a question for national security since the rise of China in the late 1990s–as China proposes the largest threat to replacing America as the world power. Their growing economy stands as a threatening factor towards the US, their alliance with Russia proposes a mirror image of the Axis with authoritarian governments, and neighboring borders with North Korea. The public’s growing concern was settled in November of 2022 when Premier Xi Jing’s and President Biden held discussions encouraging mutual efforts towards peace. Sadly, their discussions have amounted to little more than just peace talks.

In the most recent months of 2023, three incidents on the global stage have highlighted America’s growing concerns with China as an evolving global power: (1) growing suspicion that China was the source who created the SARS-COV2 virus; (2) increased spying activities involving white balloons flying over the Western Hemisphere, specifically in the Northern States such as Montana, and the Dakotas; and (3) the arrival of Xi Jinping in Moscow.

These three events have ignited curiosity as to why the conflict between China and the United States is growing more strained. The first one being a tragic event that began four years ago; the origins of COVID-19 were rumored to come from somewhere in China; however, as of March 17th, intelligence reports found large amounts of raccoon DNA hidden in the COVID-19 cells. The national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, understands the difficulty announcing new information on this topic as it heightens tension with China. The new intriguing theories have placed mistrust in China and their ability and unwillingness to share information domestically and internationally. During his administration, former President Trump removed the United States from the World Health Organization (WHO) because the organization failed to adequately prepare for a global pandemic; now, the WHO has been targeting China to release statements of known data that exposes the truth of whether or not the pandemic began from an animal. Access to information and cooperation between countries is becoming increasingly political – and in the face of fewer successful global democracies – more political..

The second event, the White Balloon incident, sparked curiosity regarding China’s use of a low-tech balloon. China’s goal was to “develop aerial surveillance capacities” to beat the near-space technology of other countries, including the United States. As the atmosphere becomes the combat zone, this proposes the impact of new conflict in space? NPR journalist, Emily Feng, locates the new “battleground” in between the earth's surface, and space. The balloon is a popular tactic used by the Chinese military to gain “meteorological information about where to launch” ballistic missiles. The concern and fear the balloon created overwhelmed social media, government intelligence, and military forces. The shocking reaction from Washington increases the concerns, security and welfare of people in Canada and the United States. What else can “float” with little detection through the heartland?

Finally, the summit between Xi Jinping and Vladmir Putin in Moscow was organized to strengthen political, economic, and military ties between the two countries. According to the BBC, the leaders signed two joint documents for economic cooperation, reached an agreement on a pipeline in Siberia, agreed that “nuclear war must never be unleashed”, expressed concerns over the new Aukus pact (a defense agreements between Australia, the UK and the US; and finally acknowledged the overwhelming growth of NATO’s military presence in Asia.

There are many takeaways from this meeting however, the emerging friendship represents an inability by the West to use diplomacy to solve increasingly complex and violent global conflicts. “The more volatile the world is, the more steadily China-Russia relations should move forward,” proposes a publisher from the People’s Daily. China and Russia share two common interests: they are both the world standards of authoritarian leaders, and both embrace the idea of a “multi-polar world” devoid of US domination. Therefore, improving their relationship and strengthening their cooperation and understanding – mutually serves each of their own best interests. As the Ukrainian war grinds forward, leaders of countries (marginalized by current global players, or seeking to advance their own agendas) can capitalize on the growing rifts among the West and Russia/China.

A warrant from the International Criminal Court was issued for Vladimir Putin on March 17th for illegally transferring Ukrainian children and citizens into Russian territories. The blatant disregard for international law and societal norms by Russia’s leader only highlights the potential contempt for the order of law as the basis for global agreements. The alliance between China and Russia sets the stage for autocracies to lead the emerging coalition and potentially realign the global cooperation among countries, and threatens the future security imposed by the United States hegemony.

As Russia seeks more visible and stronger alliances, Ukraine has also done the same. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida visited Kyiv to show support for Ukraine and the disloyalty China portrayed to the world. The harsh reality of these visits from Beijing to Moscow prove to the world that the Ukraine-Russia war has no end in sight and that Russia will not back down from their ultimate goal of resurfacing Soviet Union ideology into Ukraine.