Manoj Kewalramani, Fellow-China Studies at the Takshashila Institution, was quoted in an article discussing Chinese diplomatic language in the South China Morning Post.
Asked about Chinese diplomats using the term ‘ironclad’ to describe certain bilateral relationships, Manoj said that:
The phrase “ironclad” has emerged more often under current Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s administration, which began in 2013. Apart from the deep historical ties, the term “ironclad” has also been used to highlight the relationships in which Beijing can “be assured of greater political certainty.”… China’s club of “ironclad” friends does not include strategic partners such as Russia, which upgraded its ties with China to form a “comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era” two years ago, said Kewalramani. “Yet, this is among the most strategically significant relationships for China today,” he noted, adding that the 2019 move not only placed the Sino-Russian relationship at the “top of the pecking order” when it came to China’s strategic partnerships, but also gave it “a far broader scope than your run-of-the-mill strategic partnerships”. The decision not to use the term “ironclad” to describe Beijing’s ties to Moscow also reflected China’s “lingering sense of uncertainty [with the Russians], however faint it may appear”, Kewalramani added.
You can read the full article here.