To Western eyes, China’s wolf-warrior foreign affairs policy and Russia’s extravagant threats over Ukraine can appear cryptic. These seem designed not to make friends but rather to antagonise others. Moreover, Chinese and Russian actions don’t seem to be advancing their interests. Instead, they are only convincing many countries to pushback, including through diversifying trade away from China and Russia, reshaping national defence forces and posture, highlighting Chinese and Russian internal failings and opposing the two nations in diplomatic forums.

However, Chinese and Russian strategies can usefully be looked at differently, to both highlight their logic and the implications that then arise.

China endlessly seeks respect, a somewhat vague term partly related to shi, sometimes translated as strategic advantage. Respect in this context involves having an ability to set the agenda of the issues in question, forcing others to always consider your response first before they take any action, others appreciating your capabilities and then self-policing, and annexing others’ imaginations and so constraining their strategic thinking.

Please click here to read the full “Living with a feared China and Russian-built chaos” article published at The Interpreter, written by Griffith Asia Insitute Visiting Fellow, Dr Peter Layton.