- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 15, 2001

The United States' worst Cold War nightmare will come to pass this week in Moscow, amid little evident anxiety in Washington.
Chinese President Jiang Zemin arrives in Moscow today for a four-day visit capped by the signing of a broad "friendship and cooperation" treaty with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The accord, the first between the erstwhile communist rivals in 20 years, comes when both Moscow and Beijing are sorting out their relations with the new Bush administration. The treaty also reflects a growing convergence of interests between the two nations on a range of issues, from missile defense to Islamic terrorism to the intense dislike of what both denounce as a "unipolar" — U.S.-dominated — world.
Mr. Jiang, interviewed by Russian reporters last week before the summit, predicted that he and Mr. Putin will find "extensive consensus" during his trip, which ends Wednesday.
How the friendship treaty will change geopolitical realities is another question, analysts said.
"When it comes to substance, there's really not a whole lot to this treaty," said Paul Saunders, a Russia scholar and director of the Nixon Center, a Washington-based think tank. "It's the symbolism that everybody's interested in."
"Both Russian and China have an interest in demonstrating to the United States that they have other options," said Mr. Saunders.
The two giants fought a brief border war in 1969 and endured testy relations throughout much of the second half of the past century. U.S. diplomacy of the time, particularly under President Nixon and Henry Kissinger, made it a priority to try to keep the two apart, with Washington able to play one off against the other.
But the West's triumph in the Cold War, the decimation of the Soviet empire, and the economic and military emergence of China over the past decade have radically altered the variables in the equation.
Mr. Putin's Russia, in particular, has blown hot and cold on the idea of closer ties to China, whose surging economy and ability to attract foreign investment he longs to emulate.
His advisers reportedly are sharply divided between those who see Beijing as a counterweight to the United States and those who fear the treaty simply will annoy Washington while relegating Moscow to the role of China's junior partner.
Mr. Putin will leave Moscow almost immediately after Mr. Jiang's departure this week for the Group of Eight summit in Genoa, Italy.
Fiona Hill, a foreign policy fellow at the Brookings Institution, said China will be Mr. Putin's de facto "silent partner" at the Genoa talks, increasing his clout in discussions with Western leaders.
Mr. Putin also sees China as a market for Russian goods, in particular energy and weapons. One of the few concrete achievements of the summit this week is expected to be a promise by China to order a small number of Russian passenger aircraft now in the development stage, the first such purchase in a decade.
One issue that had united the two nations — opposition to the Bush administration's missile defense idea — even has become a point of conflict. Beijing remains adamantly opposed to the concept, but Russia, which has a much bigger nuclear arsenal, has flirted with a regional missile defense proposal and has not ruled out a deal with the United States on the issue.

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