Recent Sino–Russian naval drills in the South China Sea were touted by both states as an example of an alignment in each side’s interests. But the reality is more modest, as the two powers carefully balance the strategic advantages and liabilities of their relationship.
As President Hu Jintao unveils a new foreign policy initiative, there is now a renewed interest in a more globally active China. However, decisive differences with the US on Iran, North Korea and Afghanistan show that actions will continue to be carried out with domestic interests in mind.
Bob Ainsworth, the Defence Secretary, has announced deep cuts in military personnel and equipment to fund a £900 million boost for the Afghanistan campaign. However the figures may not stack up. Something is going to give and in a big way. Defence is living through a slow motion road accident while it waits for the political wheel to turn and give it some strategic direction.