Realignment in the U.S.-Russia-China triangle

Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Barack Obama attend the 2014 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Beijing.
Until now, China has been closer to Russia and the U.S. than the latter two were to each other. President Trump’s policies could transform those relationships (source: dpa)
  • The Obama administration eschewed a strategic approach to relations with Russia and China
  • Trump seems likely to change this, taking Russia more seriously and criticizing China more harshly
  • This will bring about a transformation in the balance of power in the “strategic triangle”

President Donald Trump’s foreign policy is still being formed. Nevertheless, statements from him and his team allow us to infer some of their intentions. One of these is that they will seek a rapprochement with Russia while putting pressure on China. If the Trump administration follows that course, it will be a significant example of the famous “strategic triangle” policy at work between the United States, China and Russia. The logic is a straightforward interpretation of the classical balance of power theory, where each state attempts to be closer to the other two than the other two are to each other. The states are always competing for primacy in these relationships and global influence generally.

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