JRL NEWSWATCH: “China and Russia’s awkward romance” – Washington Post/Jonathan Hillman

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“… China still towers above Russia in economic and demographic terms. With a long history of invasions, Russia’s paranoia about foreign powers approaching its borders will not vanish overnight. … Russian policymakers must be persuaded to take China’s economic power as seriously as the West’s military power. China’s grand ambitions run through Russia and its neighbors, but its investments and infrastructure projects have not yet triggered alarms in Moscow. … Xi now holds the keys in the form of investment and respect that Putin, economically and diplomatically isolated from the West, craves. Washington should highlight the risks of China’s Belt and Road in Russia’s backyard. Three of the eight countries with the highest debt risk from Chinese lending are Russia’s close neighbors: Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia. China … wrote off a portion of Tajikistan’s debt in exchange for disputed territory in 2011. … [A]s China’s economic footprint grows, so will its security footprint. … Chinese military vehicles and construction in Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor suggest … expansion is already underway. … … the United States could reestablish itself as a natural wedge between Russia and China. … [and] must avoid becoming a bridge that unites them.”

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