And while Beijing’s official line might be that the East-2018 exercise is not directed at any other power, Chinese editorials republished on official government sites clearly indicate that China hopes that it can partner with Russia to challenge the United States. “Objectively, the purpose of the large military drills by China and Russia is self-evident,” reads an op-ed republished on the PLA’s ChinaMil site . “Some hegemonic powers target China and Russia as their biggest threats, giving heavy blows to the two countries in political, economic and military areas. Such actions have severely threatened regional and even global peace and stability. Therefore, China-Russia alliance is a reasonable stance against the hegemonic impulse and for safeguarding peace and stability of the region and the world.”
Even American experts on Russia are starting to accept the possibility of a genuine Beijing-Moscow entente directed against the United States. “I think a strategic partnership is slowly in the offing, but is encumbered by the two sides' self-interest and transactional impulses,” Kofman said. “As such, the catalyst will be a third actor, namely the United States, and the extent to which those countries perceive a threat from Washington in common.”
Dave Majumdar is the defense editor for the National Interest. You can follow him on Twitter: @davemajumdar.