It’s that time of the week again: your Friday wrap-up of China news.
With Xi Jinping heading to Russia to attend the Victory Day parade and other events commemorating the surrender of German forces 70 years ago, now’s a great time to check out Alexander Korolev’s piece for the Asan Forum debunking four myths about factors preventing a China-Russia alliance. The four myths: Russia will not ally with China because it fears being overshadowed by Chinese power; Russia is concerned about Chinese migrants flooding into Siberia; Russia worries about becoming too close to (and thus too economically dependent on) China; and China and Russia do not trust each other enough to form an alliance. If you’ve ever waved away a possible China-Russia axis on the basis on one (or all of these) arguments, read Korolev’s counterarguments.
Also as Xi heads to Russia, Xinhua ran an article highlighting China and Russia’s joint contributions to Allied victory in World War II. The pieces quotes at length from an article by Xi himself that appeared in the Russian Gazette. “Decades ago, the Chinese and Russian nations shared weal and woe and forged an unbreakable war friendship with fresh blood,” Xi wrote. “Today, the two peoples will jointly move forward, safeguarding peace and promoting development, and continue to contribute to enduring global peace and the common progress of mankind.”
Elsewhere, Jane Perlez of The New York Times has an overview of an often-overlooked but fascinating topic: China’s growing interest in Antarctica. China’s rapidly expanded presence (since 1985, Beijing has opened four research bases and has plans to build a fifth) has some concerned that China will seek to exploit Antarctica’s natural resources once the Antarctic Treaty expires in 2048. “We should have no illusions about the deeper agenda… This is part of a broader pattern of a mercantilist approach all around the world,” Peter Jennings, executive director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, told Perlez.
In China domestic news, Xinhua reports that a leadership shuffle has resulted in new chairmen at each of China’s state-owned oil giants: Sinopec, China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC), and China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC). As I’ve written previously, China’s state oil firms have come under heavy scrutiny for corruption; Sinopec’s number two was recently placed under investigation. As Bloomberg noted in its analysis of the news, the new leaders will have less baggage and will be more able to support planned reforms to China’s state-owned enterprises.
Last week, this links round-up featured Michael Forsythe’s story on the financial ties between Wang Jianlin, Asia’s richest man, and the families of some of China’s top leaders. This week, Barbara Demick of the New Yorker explores the differing approaches between the New York Times (which ran Forsythe’s piece) and Bloomberg, Forsythe’s former employer, rumored to have rejected the story out of concern it would provoke retaliation from Beijing.