A new Cold War? China and Russia strengthening bonds.

Sanne van Oosten

Hong Kong is probably the best place in Asia to catch up on international news. We have just traveled all through Southeast Asia and now made the jump over the Hong Kong. News stands with every imaginable international news paper on every corner were quite refreshing. Of course, when traveling we still had internet to keep up on current events. Call me old-fashioned, but it just isn’t the same as reading an actual news paper. The first day in Hong Kong and all of the newspaper headlines are about one event: the meeting between Russia’s Putin and China’s Hu Jintao at the Central Asia Summit.

The two leaders are strengthening ties in order to counterbalance the power of the West. Russia and China have repeatedly defied calls by the international community to confront Syria’s regime over spiraling violence, saying they will not back steps that could lead to foreign intervention. Russia has long been a close ally of President Bashar Assad’s regime, while Beijing opposes setting precedents that could potentially be applied to its troubled western regions of Tibet and Xinjiang. Putin has sought to use Russia’s burgeoning ties with Beijing as a counterweight to U.S. global predominance, and the sides have found common cause in rejecting Western calls for more open politics and respect for civil liberties. Both countries also oppose further sanctions against Iran over its suspected drive to develop nuclear weapons.

China and Russia strengthening ties in order to reduce the West’s power in the region. Both West and.. well, let’s call it East, want to ever expand the areas in which they can exert power. The West wants to tamper Iran’s nuclear power? The East wants to ensure it can grow. The West wants to crush Syrian authorities and prevent them from crushing the popular uprising against the government? The East wants to keep on selling weapons to Syria and not give their own political dissidents and ethnic minorities any ideas in thinking they can do the same in Russia and, most importantly, China. Once again, the world is divided in two power blocks.

Sounds like the Cold War all over again. Or was the Cold War never really over? Were the last 20+ years just a time in which the West thought the Cold War was over, whilst the East had the time and space to regroup and economically (and thus politically) expand? Of course, the division is no longer between capitalism and communism. Now, China is growing to be the most capitalistic nation in the world and Russia isn’t doing al l that bad either. Meanwhile, the West is wallowing in a self-induced economic crisis; the US with their sub-prime mortgages and more recently Europe with their ongoing financial dept crises.

The New Cold War, roughly the same players, but different ideologies. I can say with quite some certainty that the ideologies do not vary from communist to capitalist anymore. But what are the new ideologies now? Is it the West’s promotion of democracy versus the East’s promotion of authoritarianism? Or have the ideologies flipped altogether? Leading to capitalism with strict authoritarian rule on the side of the East versus socialism without the political power to fix problems like the dept crisis on the side of the West? Only time can tell.

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