The story with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which ended to the benefit of Russian national interests, nevertheless exposes the weakness of the Russian decisionmaking process in relation to the Asia-Pacific.
Pax Sinica has come. Countries in China’s orbit will be given security guarantees and trade preferences as long as they remain allegiant. Thus, the pivot to Asia will only drive Russia to unnecessary dependence on China.
For Russian business interests who use Hong Kong as a base for operations in mainland China or the Asia-Pacific region, or are listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEx), prodemocracy demonstrations were bad news.
The only possible source of money for the Power of Siberia pipeline is no one else but China, and the terms of this assistance will be dictated from Beijing. The Kremlin’s inability to come to terms with the Western world does not come cheap.
As new rounds of Western sanctions seem more likely, some large Russian companies are moving their cash reserves away from Western banks and currencies. In the long run dependence on China’s money and its financial institutions may be a new reality for Russian leaders for decades.
The Chinese do not have to listen to the Russians to see threats to their national sovereignty and domestic stability on the horizon. Both see Western support for democracy as a tool to contain them internationally and to weaken them from within.