China’s global interests are “not well served” by aligning itself with Russia, the head of Britain’s intelligence, cybersecurity and security agency has said, as it would “constrain” the country’s global role and would undermine its stated beliefs in territorial integrity and its longstanding claim to Taiwan.
Jeremy Fleming, who heads Britain’s signals intelligence agency GCHQ, said: “We know that Presidents Xi and Putin highly value their personal relationships…but there are risks for both of them, and more. for China to be too closely aligned.
The risk for Beijing, said Fleming, is that it “wants to settle . . . the standards of a new global governance” and yet Russia is a regime “that deliberately and illegally ignores them all”, even as China has “one eye on Taiwan’s recovery”.
The risk for Moscow, Fleming said, is that “Russia understands that in the long run, China will grow stronger militarily and economically.”[and when]. . . their interests are in conflict, Russia could be ousted”.
Fleming’s remarks came a day after China said it was reaffirming its partnership with Russia and wanted to take bilateral relations “to the next level”.
His comments were delivered at a conference at the Australian National University in Canberra. Australia is a member of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network which also includes the UK, US, Canada and New Zealand.
Fleming said Putin had underestimated Western and Ukrainian resolve and criticized Russia’s military capability in remarks that portrayed Moscow as a losing bet.
“We have seen Russian soldiers – strapped for weapons and morale – refusing to carry out orders, sabotaging their own equipment and even accidentally shooting down their own aircraft,” he said.