Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin made his fourth visit to China since President Xi Jinping became top party leader in 2012. During this latest meeting, the two countries inked more than 30 deals, including an oil supply contract, and issued numerous joint statements, one of which criticized the United States for its plans to deploy missile defense systems on the Korean Peninsula and in the Balkans. Chinese state media speculate that this year’s China-Russia joint naval exercises, held annually since 2005, will likely be led by the South China Sea Fleet, reinforcing a general perception in China and elsewhere that U.S. policies are pushing Chinese leaders to consolidate ties with Russia.
On July 26, the John L. Thornton China Center at Brookings hosted a discussion on the U.S.-China-Russia trilateral relationship, the shape and scope of which carries far-reaching consequences for international order and global economic growth. Brookings President Strobe Talbott, who served as deputy secretary of state and ambassador-at-large on the new independent states following the Soviet breakup, provided an introduction. A panel of experts—J. Stapleton Roy, Fiona Hill, Yun Sun, and Cheng Li—discussed the current and historical dynamics at play, including expectations and recommendations for the future.