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VLADIVOSTOK, Russia — From this Pacific port to a Siberian training range 900 miles away, China and Russia sent an unambiguous message to Washington on Tuesday: Under American pressure, these historical rivals are becoming allies.


In Vladivostok, Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomed Chinese President Xi Jinping as the headline guest at an annual conference focused on Russia’s Far East. They made pancakes together on the waterfront.


Meanwhile in Siberia, more than 3,000 Chinese troops joined Russian soldiers for the country’s biggest military drills since the Soviet era.

与此同时,在西伯利亚 ,超过3000名中国士兵参见了俄罗斯自苏联时代以来最大规模的军事演习。

China and Russia regularly cooperate in bilateral exercises. But this is the first time that Moscow has integrated Chinese forces into its annual strategic exercises typically reserved for Russia’s closest allies: drones, paratroopers, artillery and warplanes deployed in mock battles.


This year’s Vostok (“east”) drills have been billed by the Russian military as the biggest since 1981, involving about 300,000 Russian service members, more than 1,000 aircraft, 36,000 tanks and scores of ships over the next week.


The addition of the Chinese units underscores a potentially major shift: Two countries that had long considered each other potential military adversaries are now partners in confronting the United States.


In this photo taken from video provided by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service on Sept. 11, tanks roll during the military exercises in country’s east. (AP)


“Both countries are trying to signal: If the United States pushes too far, we are going to move closer to each other,” said Alexander Gabuev, chairman of the Russia in the Asia-Pacific Program at the Carnegie Moscow Center think tank.


Russia in recent years started selling China some of its most advanced weapons, including the S-400 surface-to-air missile system and Su-35 fourth-generation fighter jet. Such sales had been hindered in the past by Moscow’s worries that China was a potential adversary and that it would steal the technology.
But amid Russia’s conflict with the West, those worries have mostly dissipated.

近年来,俄罗斯开始向中国出售一些最先进的武器,包括S-400地对空导弹系统和苏-35第四代战斗机。在过去,这种销售受到了阻碍。 莫斯科担心中国是一个潜在的对手,而且会窃取技术。

“There’s no question that international tensions have contributed to the tightening of Russian-Chinese bonds,” Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in July.


Few expect Russia and China to enter a formal alliance akin to NATO. But the two countries are sending a signal that they could partner up in a military entente in the event of a confrontation with Washington in which their interests align.

很少有人预计俄罗斯和中国会加入类似于北约的正式联盟。但这两个国家发出的信号是,如果与华盛顿对抗,他们可以在军事协约中结成伙伴关系。 在这方便他们的利益一致。

The relationship, independent Moscow foreign policy analyst Vladimir Frolov said, now represents a “de facto military alliance, purposefully not codified to maintain ambiguity.”


Chinese officials generally shy away from open talk of joining forces with Russia against the United States. But in the lead-up to Xi’s trip to Vladivostok, China’s state-run media was full of effusive commentary lauding the relationship between Moscow and Beijing.


Feng Yujun, director of the Center for Russian and Central Asian Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, said the geopolitical aims of the two countries do not coincide. China is trying to integrate itself into the established international order and promote globalization, he said, while Russia is not willing to obey the established order.


“Russia is facing many difficulties. Its relationship with Western countries is deteriorating, and its economy is under heavy sanctions,” he said in a phone interview. “So Russia hopes to ease the pressure on it with the help of China, to gain political and economic benefits on the other hand.”


In Vladivostok on Tuesday, Xi gave Putin a boost by bringing a delegation of nearly 1,000 Chinese businesspeople and officials to the Eastern Economic Forum, a Putin-led effort to lure foreign investment to Russia’s remote Asian reaches.


After hours of talks, Putin took Xi to the Sea of Japan (East Sea) waterfront, where the presidents cooked blini: thin Russian pancakes.


“You and I work together most closely,” Xi told Putin at the start of their meeting. “I’m prepared to further deepen our exchange of views and our tight coordination, both today and in the future.”


[Opinion: China and Russia’s game of distortion]


China is also seeing benefits from the deepening relationship.


Kofman, the CNA researcher, cautioned that lingering tensions between Russia and China shouldn’t lead to conclusions that they won’t cooperate militarily in the future. He noted that they could act together against the United States in an arrangement that falls short of a formal, on-paper alliance.


“Throughout history, great powers have allied with one another against common threats out of necessity, not necessarily because they share values or ultimate aims,” Kofman said.