- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 26, 2000

The Sino-Russian summit last week was overshadowed here by all sorts of other news, of the kind which tells you something about how far down the news ladder foreign affairs has fallen. There was the Middle East summit at Camp David, which never stood a snowball's chance in hell, as well as the prospective selection of a Republican vice presidential candidate. The president's wife, meanwhile, was accused of making anti-Semitic remarks a quarter-century ago. So naturally, it is no wonder that the collusion of China and Russia to oppose one of the most important American defense initiatives, National Missile Defense, got drowned out.
Still, the summit was enough to make you wonder if James Jesus Angleton wasn't right after all. To the suspicious mind, the meeting between between Russia's new and ambitious president, Vladimir Putin, and Chinese President Jiang Zemin could provide confirmation that the Soviet-Sino rift of the 1960s and '70s was one giant deception produced by the KGB Department of Disinformation, and that what we are seeing now is the emergence of the natural state of affairs in the relationship between the two largest rivals of the United States on the international stage.
Angleton, the CIA's legendary counterintelligence chief, based his conviction on testimony by KGB Major Anatoliy Golitsyn, whom he believed to be "the most valuable defector ever to reach the West." Maj. Golitsyn described eight areas of strategic deception created by the KGB to fool the West, and among them was the fake ideological dispute between the Soviet Union and Mao's China. This deception he believed was created to allow the withdrawal of Soviet technical advisers and opened the door for China to import Western credits and technology. Indeed, in the late 1960s Sino-Soviet cooperation manifested itself in the shipment of military goods to North Vietnam as observed by U.S. intelligence. China and the Soviet Union were never exactly implacable enemies. Therefore, when Richard Nixon created his famous opening to China in 1973, the ultimate exercise in realpolitik and triangulation, Angleton was very outspoken in his criticism, for which he earned the enmity of Henry Kissinger, the father of U.S. China policy.
Whether you believe Angleton's theory of deception or not, it's clear by now that Russia and China have managed to bury past disagreements. Back in the 1950s, the Chinese deeply resented having to be the "junior partner" of the two Marxist behemoths. But today, in the post-communist era, China and Russia are together again, and are actively working to counter American dominance. In 1996, presidents Yeltsin and Jiang announced to the world their "strategic partnership." The two countries settled their long-standing and manpower-intensive border dispute in 1997. And China has been an unwavering supporter of Russia in its opposition to NATO expansion and American military missions, most prominently in Bosnia and Kosovo. As noted in a recent monograph from the Nixon Center, "Managing U.S. China Relations in the Twenty-First Century" by David M. Lampton and Gregory C. May, "From a security standpoint, China and Russia now are more in tune with one another then they have been in nearly forty years."
Those who favor American hegemony as any sensible person would in my opinion had better get used to the fact that large chunks of the world do not share this preference and probably won't for the foreseeable future. Last year, it was our military action in Kosovo that was the object of anger for Russia and China, both of whom have records on human rights that would easily qualify for bombing raids were it not that these countries are a little larger and harder to deal with than Serbia.
This year, it is American plans for national missile defense that have the Russians and Chinese falling into each other's arms. The joint statement by the two leaders condemned the United States for seeking "unilateral military and security advantages" and warned that breaching that treaty would "trigger a new arms race." Added Mr. Putin, "Our two countries presently share a common position on the global security balance." Mr. Jiang chimed in that the two would "push forward a global multipolar process and establish a new political and economic order." And he also pledged that China and Russia would "completely cooperate in the areas of politics, economics, science and technology, military affairs and international affairs."
All of which sounds very cozy for them, of course. Where does that leave the United States, then? It so happens that it leaves us in the driver's seat as far as economics are concerned, exactly where we have been since World War II. The Russians know how intensely frustrating it is to compete with an economic giant, and the Chinese, watchful as they are for signs of American decline, will find it similarly difficult.
Consider this: Trade between Russia and China totaled only $3.56 billion in the first half of 2000. In 1999, trade between the United States and China totaled $94.9 billion. While the shenanigans of the leaders of Russia and China are definitely something we need to be aware of, it is also obvious that they can only go so far if they want the economic advantage of trading with the United States, including World Bank and IMF loans and the bilateral assistance. Even as they spin their webs to contain U.S. power, we continue to have the real muscle fortunately.
E-mail: [email protected]

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide