China was on Russian minds the most, relegating the Korean Peninsula to second among Asian interests. On the one hand, Putin’s announcement of Russia transferring its missile defense apparatus to China set the tone for optimistic pronouncements of an upgrading of strategic relations, even if the term “alliance” was not in the official lexicon. Some foresaw an alliance, even an integrated missile defense system taking shape. On the other hand, talk of China struggling with new challenges also became pronounced in the less conservative media. The legacy of the Soviet model and its own historical record did not bode well when Xi Jinping was boosting authoritarianism and socialist ideology. Critiques may have served a purpose similar to that of Soviet writings on China in the first half of the 1980s, casting indirect doubt on domestic shortcomings.