China and Russia conducted joint naval exercises in the South China Sea last week. Five Russian and ten Chinese ships participated in eight days of drills covering joint air defense, anti-submarine operations, landing, island-seizing, search and rescue operations, and weapons use. In the single largest naval exercise undertaken by the two, the Russian fleet comprised an Udaloy class anti-submarine destroyer, the Admiral Tributs, while the Chinese supplied surface ships, including landing craft, and submarines. The message, in the wake of the international tribunal's ruling against China's claims in the South China Sea, is crystal clear.
China has been the largest buyer of Russian arms and technology for years, followed by India. The conflict in South China Sea (SCS) over islands and military infrastructure Beijing has put in place there is bringing together the military allies Russia and China on firmer footing than ever before in years after the Cold War.
South China Sea (SCS) is emerging a hotbed of tension between China, the economic and military power of Asia and its sea neighbors of the Asia Pacific region. Following military activity by China which claims its authority over the zone, tensions between China and its northern maritime neighbours continue to dominate developments in the SCS but further unresolved disputes add to the dangerous atmosphere because no side is ready to back down and seek genuine reconciliation, while US super power opposes Beijing and supports its neighbors.
The China-Pakistan Axis has caused serious problems for world’s top power USA and South Asian giant India. The United States, as a stabilizer of the balance of power in Asia, has backed India as a potential competitor with China. The rivalry visibly surfaced when U.S.-backed India failed in its bid to be included in Nuclear Suppliers Group over Chinese opposition. India held China solely responsible for its failure. Decades ago, the looming threat of Soviet expansion in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean.
Russia and Australia should be partners in the Asia-Pacific. Instead Canberra seems perennially paranoid about the Russian threat. This paranoia is nearly as old as Australia.
The recent ruling by the international tribunal in the Hague on the deliberations between the Philippines and China over territory in the South China Sea has created a more precarious region. Chinese officials swiftly rebuked the binding decision that found its artificial island construction, behavior, as well as the supposed nine-dash claim baseless. China was not expecting a full out favorable ruling but surprised by the level of condemnation it received.
An international tribunal, Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), has ruled against Chinese claims to rights in the South China Sea, backing a case brought by the Philippine, declaring that there was no evidence that China had historically exercised exclusive control over the waters or resources.
In 2001, in response to an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) agreement with China regarding conduct in the South China Sea, Odgaard (2001) optimistically described the cooperation as the beginning of a “new order”. Odgaard remarked that, “The dispute highlights differences in the approach of the two entities to the balance of power, diplomacy, and international law…[and] the seeds of a new order emerge, representing a compromise between the security practices employed by China and Southeast Asia” (Odgaard, 2001, p. 292). As recent events have demonstrated, Odgaard weighted a liberal approach to the dispute too heavily, and China’s rising economic status has tipped the scales in its favor, allowing it to ignore ASEAN’s deterrence coalition.