Chinese and Russian soldiers are seen during Joint Sea-2014 naval exercise outside Shanghai on the East China Sea, May 23, 2014.REUTERS/China Daily
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The Obama administration is playing down an increasingly warm relationship between its main global rivals, China and Russia, which it may have inadvertently encouraged.When coupled with growing cooperation between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, in other areas – notably, a new $400 billion natural gas deal and apparent agreement on the crisis in Ukraine – many believe Russia and China may now or may soon represent a powerful new alliance challenging not only the United States, but also the Western democratic tradition that the U.S. has championed globally.To hear the Obama administration tell it, a burgeoning Russia-China friendship is a natural and expected occurrence and poses no particular risk beyond blunting the impact of U.S. and European sanctions imposed over Ukraine. U.S. officials also reject the notion that they may have made China more willing to do business with Moscow with the Justice Department's indictment of five Chinese military cyber hackers on the eve of Putin's trip to China this week to seal the gas deal. Administration officials say both Russia and China share U.S. concerns about proliferation and terrorism and both have been cooperative in dealing with the North Korean and Iranian nuclear programs and Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles.
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