You might be interested in reading this fascinating analysis at Financial Times by Gideon Rachman on how Russia and China are positioning themselves and not merely positioning themselves but cooperating in bringing about a “new world order” to supplant the old “new world order” of a hegemonic and aggressive United States:
Two features of the current world order that the Russians and the Chinese frequently object to are “unipolarity” and “universality”. Put more simply, they believe that the current arrangements give America too much power — and they are determined to change that.
“Unipolarity” means that, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the world was left with only one superpower — the US. Fyodor Lukyanov, a Russian foreign-policy thinker who is close to President Putin, believes that unipolarity “gave the United States the ability and possibility to do whatever it saw fit on the world stage”. He argues that the new age of American hegemony was ushered in by the Gulf war of 1991 — in which the US assembled a global coalition to drive Saddam Hussein’s Iraq out of Kuwait.
The Gulf war was followed by a succession of US-led military interventions around the world — including in Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990s. Nato’s bombing of Belgrade, Serbia’s capital, in 1999, has long formed part of Russia’s argument that Nato is not a purely defensive alliance. The fact that Nato bombs also struck the Chinese embassy in Belgrade has not been forgotten in Beijing.
After the 9/11 terror attacks on New York and Washington, Nato invoked Article 5 — its mutual-defence clause — and invaded Afghanistan. Once again, according to Lukyanov, America had demonstrated its willingness and ability to “forcefully transform the world”.
But America’s defeat in Afghanistan, symbolised by the chaotic withdrawal from Kabul in the summer of 2021, has given the Russians hope that the US-led world order is crumbling. Lukyanov argues that the fall of Kabul to the Taliban was “no less historical and symbolic than the fall of the Berlin Wall”.
Influential Chinese academics are thinking along similar lines. Yan Xuetong, dean of the school of international relations at Tsinghua University in Beijing (Xi’s alma mater), writes that “China believes that its rise to great-power status entitles it to a new role in world affairs — one that cannot be reconciled with unquestioned US dominance.”
The fly in this Sino-Russian ointment is that the interests of Russia and China are not aligned. Russia sees the emergence of a multi-polar world with spheres of influence; China on the other hand sees itself as supplanting the United States as global hegemon. There can be only one.
It should be obvious to anyone with a globe that while a Russia-Chinese alliance makes sense tactically it is senseless strategically. Further, although Russia seems to have entered a tenuous stability, there is every likelihood that China is at the peak of its power right now. Both countries may see benefit for themselves in expeditious action but Russia may well be more reluctant than China is likely to be.