It would be more surprising if that partnership didn’t evolve towards a military alliance. From Ted Snider at responsiblestatecraft.org:
In October, Russia and China conducted a week-long joint naval patrol — their first such exercise in the Western Pacific.
Five Russian and five Chinese warships sailed through the international waters of the Tsugaru Strait, which separates the main island of Japan from its northern island of Hokkaido, to “maintain peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region,” and to “demonstrate the state flags of Russia and China,” according to the Russian defense ministry. The Chinese defense ministry added that the joint exercise was also meant to “further develop the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership in the new era, enhance the joint action capabilities of both parties and jointly maintain international and regional strategic stability.”
But what is this “new era” comprehensive strategic partnership between Russia and China?
The second cold war
Both Russia and China were reluctant to enter the new era they find themselves in. At the close of the Cold War, Russia had hoped for a new, cooperative post-Cold War world. Professor of Russian and European Politics at the University of Kent Richard Sakwa says that, at the close of the Cold War, Russia wanted to transcend the blocs and divisions, but America insisted on preserving them. Russia wanted to join a transformed international community freed of blocs and made up of equal partners who cooperated with each other; America offered Russia only an invitation to join an enlarged American-led community as a defeated and subordinate member. It took Putin about 14 years to give up the transformational vision and accept the reality of the second cold war. By 2012, Russia had realized that the only option America offered was losing the Cold War, not ending it. By 2014, Russia had abandoned what Sakwa calls “its last cold peace inhibitions.”