China and Russia (including the period of the former Soviet Union) have shared a symbiotic relationship. They have traversed the entire spectrum of emotions, from extreme amity to extreme hostility in the space of half a century. Contemporary Sino-Russian relations are characterised by ‘mixed’ emotions, where neither the inhibitions are shed completely nor are the animosities declared openly. Energy appears to have cemented the gap at least for the time being, though, arguably, this cemented gap could serve as a bridge for future ‘strategic partnerships’ between the two nations. Since the decade of the 1990s, both countries have engaged with each other in non-military terms and largely through the energy sector. China’s present and future energy needs cannot continue surviving on coal as its pollution levels are bordering on dangerous proportions and neither can its huge economic structure make a massive and quick shift to nuclear power given all the challenges associated with it. Hence gas offers a safer and cleaner solution and when it is provided on Chinese terms then it is highly beneficial at least for China, on all fronts. Today China needs overland transportation for its resources which is both safe and inexpensive and Russia too has realised the value of alliances that it has to maintain not only as a leader but also as a partner. The establishment of pipelines, ‘oil for loan’ schemes, and opening up of Eastern Siberia for Chinese investment, all mark the beginning of a new phase in the geopolitical significance of this “romance” that will have major ripple effects in international relations for a considerable period in the present and in the future.
About the Speakers
Dr. Prachi Aggarwal is an Assistant Professor at the University of Delhi. Formerly, she was based at Sanchi University of Buddhist Indic Studies. Her areas of interest are energy studies, Chinese diplomacy and India-China relations. She has written for various columns and online websites and also published papers in reputed journals. She is the author of China’s Energy Security: The Journey from Self-Sufficiency to Global Investor, which was published in 2022 by Palgrave Macmillan Singapore as well as China’s Energy Security: The Domestic Discussion published by Knowledge World Publishers, New Delhi. She is fluent in Mandarin and has been invited as a panel speaker at LSTV Insight Programme, NewsX channel as well as at various universities both inside and outside India.
About the Chair
Prof. Alka Acharya is Honorary Director of the ICS and Chairperson at the Centre for East Asian Studies, SIS, Jawaharlal Nehru University. She has been teaching courses on Chinese Foreign Policy and Political Economy to the Masters and M.Phil. students and guiding doctoral research since 1993. She is the joint editor of the book Crossing a Bridge of Dreams: 50 years of India-China and has contributed chapters to many books and journals. She has authored a book China & India: Politics of Incremental Engagement, published in 2008 and most recently edited a volume titled Boundaries and Borderlands: A Century after the 1914 Simla Convention (Routledge, New York 2023). She was nominated by the Indian government as a member of the India-China Eminent Persons Group (2006-2008) and member of the National Security Advisory Board of the Government of India for two terms (2006-2008) and (2011-2012).
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