China expert Adil Kaukenov shared details of an intriguing discussion with a Chinese professor, shedding light on China’s perception of Russia. Kaukenov recounted the exchange on his Telegram channel:
«Today, during a lecture, a Chinese professor delved into the fundamental differences between Chinese and Western mentalities, emphasizing their impact on everything from political decision-making to business strategies and cultural relationships.
In response, I initiated a discussion on how China perceives Russia, especially amidst its intense conflict with the West, pivot towards the East, and so on: Is Russia an Eastern or Western country?
Russia: Body in the East, Mind in the West
After a brief pause, the Chinese professor remarked that while a significant portion of Russia lies in Asia, its ‘head,’ Moscow, is situated in the European part. In its religious aspect, Russia leans heavily on Christianity in its most orthodox form (Orthodoxy) and sees itself as a continuation of Byzantine and even Roman traditions: Moscow as the Third Rome. Russian knowledge of Chinese or Arab scholars, thinkers, writers, or heroes is minimal, but they are well-versed in French literature or German philosophy. Russia’s history is closely tied to competition on the European continent, where Moscow’s participation in European affairs was crucial. The current conflict, once again, unfolds in Europe, as Asia remains of secondary importance to Russia.
The Chinese Perspective
In contrast, China’s primary risks are in Asia:
- Taiwan Strait,
- South China Sea,
- territorial disputes with Japan, and so on.
Even in competition with the United States, China’s main concern lies in the blockade of the Malacca Strait or the creation of an arc around China at sea, involving Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines, and others. Potential issues with Europeans do not pose an existential threat to the existence of the Chinese state.
Therefore, despite the West’s denial and non-acceptance of Russia, the key fact for China remains:
From the perspective of Asian countries, Russia is a part of the West.
Certainly, Russia has its peculiarities, but from the Chinese standpoint, it is still part of European thinking, religion, and political orientations.
This sparked a lively debate among lecture participants, with various opinions voiced, but Chinese representatives, and nearly all Asian participants, fully endorsed the views expressed by the Chinese professor.»