JRL NEWSWATCH: “China and Russia: Economic Unequals” – CSIS/ Jonathan E. Hillman

Asia Map

“…. Xi and Putin’s signature economic visions even appear complementary at first glance. Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has unleashed Chinese companies to build roads, railways, fiber-optic cables, and other hard infrastructure …. Putin’s Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) harmonizes customs processes to create a single market among Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. … Xi and Putin have repeatedly promised to ‘link’ the BRI and EAEU[] [b]ut … have provided few practical details …. China-Russia connectivity … reveals a growing partnership … fac[ing] structural constraints. Trade … highly concentrated in natural resources …. Investment … constrained by corruption and poor infrastructure in Russia. People-to-people ties … improving but [with] mistrust … as … Covid-19 … has revealed. Even as China and Russia cooperate in building digital infrastructure, each side imposes restrictions that limit data flows. Standing in the way of deeper connections are Russia’s development challenges and both governments’ obsessions with maintaining control. … [A]s China and Russia’s economic connections strengthen, their partnership will become even more unequal. … Russian officials could be incentivized to reduce the risk of greater reliance on China. China’s sheer mass, proximity, and willingness to economically coerce its partners could eventually compel Russia to look again to the West, where most of its trade remains ….”

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