Predictability versus Chaos: Where China and Russia Diverge

Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Xi Jinping of China meet on the sidelines of an international summit in Benaulim, India, October 15
Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Xi Jinping of China meet on the sidelines of an international summit in Benaulim, India, October 15 (Presidential Press and Information Office)

China and Russia have often been bundled together as representing the single most serious challenge to the West. Without doubt these two states share a number of views on world politics and also have a host of similar interests. But it is where they differ that is more telling about their relationship with the West and the international order in general.

An interesting pattern has been unfolding for the past couple of months. Russia has been betting on growing chaos in the West. It cheered both Brexit and Donald Trump’s election victory. Russian support for populist forces in Europe can be traced back to the establishment of the Institute for Democracy and Cooperation in Paris in 2008.

China, in turn, has been much more cautious. It chose predictability, favoring the United Kingdom remaining in the European Union and tilting toward Hillary Clinton as a slightly better option, even though there were voices in the Chinese debate favoring Trump.

If both China and Russia are dissatisfied with the West, why these stark differences? Read more