"Friends forever"? China wary of Rex Tillerson wooing away Russia

But in Beijing, already reeling from Trump’s early forays into foreign policy, the move has inspired no such celebration, instead fuelling fears that the president-elect’s courtship of the Kremlin could be part of a bold strategic bid to isolate China.

“He’s a very adventurous strategist,” Shi Yinhong, a foreign policy specialist from Renmin University, said of the incoming president who has already enraged Beijing by threatening to upend decades of US policy towards China.

“If Mr Putin and Mr Trump become great friends then China can do nothing about it – but China will be prepared for some degree of alienation between Moscow and Beijing.”

Growing Chinese angst that the Republican might take a harder line on China and seek to drive a wedge between it and Russia was on display on Wednesday in the editorial pages of the Global Times, a state-run tabloid.