The China Airshow in Zhuhai is the annual exhibition that China uses, for both political and commercial reasons, to display the progress of her aerospace capabilities. Like previous editions, this year’s event saw China unveil several technologies, including a thrust-vectoring low-bypass turbofan engine and a jam-resistant and counter-stealth quantum-radar. The bulk of the attention, however, went to the mockup of a new stealth drone, the CH-7, that resembles Northrop Grumman’s XB-47B demonstrator.
In his book Fear, journalist Bob Woodward suggests that Donald Trump’s protectionist instincts may be stronger than previously thought, preventing him from making commercial peace with traditional allies or trade partners. Recent actions against China leave no doubt. Yet, this is not simply the Trump administration directing “protectionist firepower” against China, to quote James Politi of the Financial Times. A geopolitical fight is also emerging about global technological leadership and US ambitions to contain China on this crucial frontier.
If you were trying to design a low-cost strategy to constrict the operational horizon of an important US ally in the region, China’s ploys in the Pacific wouldn’t be a bad model to examine.
China has been talking a big game in the Pacific. It’s been reported as looking to fund a major regional military base in Fiji and scoping Vanuatu for a military base of its own. And it apparently has plans to refurbish four ports in Papua New Guinea, including the strategically significant Manus Island. Over the decade 2006–2016, it has committed US$1.8 billion in aid, and Chinese telco Huawei has sought to build undersea internet cables in the region.
- Russia and China play dissimilar roles in global governance and define their interests in this sphere in divergent ways. While the two states agree on certain international principles and norms, their engagement with global governance differs significantly. These differences pose the most serious long-term obstacle to closer cooperation between Moscow and Beijing.
- China’s growing participation in global governance is tightly linked to the increasing scope of its interests. China supports economic globalization and market openness and is interested in political and economic stability on a global scale. Beijing also aspires to have a greater say in international institutions.
- In comparison to China, Russia’s participation in global governance is significantly lower due to narrower interests on a global scale, fewer financial resources, and less advanced integration into the global economy. As a result, global political and economic stability is not crucially important for the current Russian leadership. On the contrary, uncertainty and volatility help Moscow broaden its influence.