FRED KATAYAMA, host: The heads of state of the former communist rivals, Hu Jintao of China and Vladimir Putin of Russia, are meeting and they are expected to pursue energy deals. China keeps searching for more oil to keep its factories humming and it’s the world’s second-largest oil consumer. Russia is in a position to supply it, it’s the world’s second-largest exporter of oil.
Let’s find out how the warming political and economic ties between the two communist powers will impact the United States. I am now joined by Carlos Pascual, he is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
Carlos, thanks for joining us today.
CARLOS PASCUAL, Brookings: My pleasure.
KATAYAMA: Good to have you with us.
Hu [Jintao], in his meeting with Putin, called him “my good friend”. He also emphasized the importance of Russo-Chinese ties in a multi-polar world. Is their warming relationship so strong that the U.S. needs to get worried?
PASCUAL: The United States does not have to be worried by the fact that Russia and China have good relations with one another. What should affect the United States is a recognition that we are no longer the dominant power in the world that we once thought that we were. There are other major powers such as Russia and China that are going to develop direct relationships with one another—on economic terms, on security issues, on strategic resource matters such as energy. And the United States may have particular interest in seeing how those relationships go, but we are not going to be able to dictate the results, we are going to have to be a player—competing with others—to try to influence the perceptions and the views of other countries and those countries are going to make their choices on their self-interest. That is a signal for the United States, that for the future, that our roll in the international community is going to change. Even if we are powerful, we are not going to be a power that can actually dictate the kinds of relationships that exist among other countries.
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I think the next [U.S.] administration will conclude that the path to Pyongyang—assuming there can be one—still goes through Beijing.