NEWSWATCH: “An Unfinished Bridge, and Partnership, Between Russia and China” – New York Times

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The New York Times covers Russo-Chinese relations and delays in Russia fulfilling its part of a joint arrangement to build an international bridge across the Amur River.

… The bridge abruptly stops, hanging in the air high above the river just short of the Russian shore at Nizhneleninskoye …. The gap … left by Russia’s failure to build its own, much shorter share of the project — exposes the reality behind the pledges of an ever closer Russian-Chinese partnership made when … Putin met in Beijing … with … Xi Jinping … their 15th meeting.

United by a shared distaste for Western models of democracy, wariness of American power and eagerness to find new sources of growth, Russia and China … produce numerous agreements for joint projects and pledges to support a Russian ‘pivot to Asia’ … championed by … Putin since … relations with the West soured over Ukraine ….

The circumstances are said to illustrate dysfunctions in Russian governance, and a lack of unity in Russian attitudes towards China and how China is viewed from a Russian security perspective.

Why it has taken so long is a study in how Russia, despite the concentration of immense power in the Kremlin under … Putin, has carried forward many of the dysfunctions that characterized the chaotic rule of … Yeltsin …. a thicket of competing bureaucratic, security and financial interests survives, stalling even strategic projects backed by the Kremlin. * * * [one commentator] said Russia’s fumbling of the bridge showed that parts of the country’s elite remained in the grip of ‘the China threat syndrome’ … a deep-seated wariness in Russia of a neighbor whose population is nearly 10 times bigger, economy more than five times larger and military spending twice as large.

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