Nathan Gardels at Noema:

Sometimes your best friend can be your worst enemy. This is the case today with the “no limits” relationship of Russian President Vladimir Putin and China’s paramount leader Xi Jinping.


Not only has Putin’s invasion of Ukraine reconsolidated the waning NATO alliance system in Europe; it has spawned the sibling of a neo-NATO for East Asia with the security pact agreed among the U.S., South Korea and Japan at Camp David last weekend. The three countries formally pledged for the first time that a threat to one is a threat to all that would be met by a coordinated defense.


The bitter antipathy harbored over the entire post-World War II period between Japan and South Korea was only overcome because the first land war in Europe in nearly eight decades made military conflict with a more assertive China palpably imaginable in their own region. Before that, Xi’s rattling of the sword over Taiwan was considered more of a nationalist rant than a probability.


This new development has upended China’s own strategy of keeping these two Asian powerhouses at odds precisely to prevent a surrounding alliance aimed at containing it. It is in this sense that Xi’s “no limits” embrace of Putin has brought China’s fear of being encircled ever closer.