the Chinese bossXi Jinpingflew to Moscow this week presented by Beijing as its envoy for peace in Ukraine.
However, his summit with the Russian president, Vladimir Putinhe showed his priority remains strengthening ties with Moscow to address what he sees as a longstanding US campaign to curb China’s rise.
The talks on Ukraine have been overshadowed by Xi’s solid solidarity with Russia political, diplomatic, economic partner AND military:
two superpowers aligned to counter American dominance and the Western-led world order.
The summit signaled Xi’s intent to solidify Beijing’s lean toward Moscow in the face of what he recently called a U.S. effort to “containment“Total Chinese.
Xi and Putin used the splendor of their three-day state visit that ended on Wednesday to signal to their respective publics and to Western capitals that the bond between their two countries remained strong and, in their eyes, essential13 months after Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine.
The two set out their worldview in a nine-point joint statement that spanned everything from Taiwan to climate change to relations with Mongolia, often portraying the United States as the obstacle to a better, more just world.
“It looks like a strategic plan for a decade or more.
It’s not a knee-jerk reaction to the Ukrainian war,” said Alexander Korolev, a professor at the University of New South Wales in Australia who studies Sino-Russian relations.
He highlighted the declaration’s repeated criticisms of the United States:
“The threat is no longer implicit and hypothetical; it is very explicit“.
Discussion of China’s murky proposal to end the war in Ukraine appeared only in the last section of their joint statement, which did not provide concrete details on the way forward.
In a warning to Western countries that support Ukraine, he said that any solution to the crisis must “Avoid the formation of confrontational blocs that add fuel to the fire”.
Instead, leaders discussed plans to improve economic cooperation and attract more Chinese investors to Russia.
They declared their admiration for each other’s authoritarian regime, and Xi went so far as to back Putin for another term in power, signaling to the Russians that he was confident they should back Putin in elections a year from now.
“Xi Jinping launched Putin’s re-election campaign,” said Maria Repnikova, a Georgia State University professor who studies political communication in China and Russia.
“It feels like an important sign that underscores the extent of their friendship and that they are indeed supporting Putin.”
But while Xi wanted to show China’s commitment to Russia, he stopped short of writing a blank check supporting Putin.
Though Putin said a new pipeline to supply natural gas to China would be completed by 2030, Xi did not confirm the deal.
China has also calibrated the language it uses to describe its relationship with Russia.
When Xi and Putin issued a joint statement last year, three weeks before Russia invaded Ukraine, they said Beijing and Moscow had a “boundless friendship“.
This time they tried draw clearer boundaries, declaring that it does not maintain a traditional political and military alliance. Xi and other Chinese officials have also generally avoided reviving such “unlimited friendship” rhetoric, even as Putin has continued to use it.
However, the symbolic support that Xi and Putin have given each other will have its value for each leader, said Repnikova, a Georgia State University scholar.
He stressed that the major state broadcasters of the two countries also signed a sharing agreement historical content, which underscores their shared interest in inoculating their populations against Western political influences.
“A sign that, albeit limited, it is nonetheless a very important partnership:
China is not alone in taking on the West, and Russia certainly has China’s backing,” he said.
Media workers for Xi and Putin have described their relationship as a brotherly bond, cemented by shots of vodka, birthday cakes and ice cream during more than 40 meetings.
But Xi’s calculus on Russia is not based on sentiment.
It is based on strategic calculations wider China, which are likely to remain fixed, whatever the outcome of the upcoming spring battles in Ukraine.
According to Xi, expressed recently in unusually blunt terms, the United States is carrying out “the total containment, encirclement and repression of China,” a campaign of sanctions and diplomatic pressure which he says he has presented to the country ” unprecedented series of challenges”.
To counter Western pressure, Xi wants to give Putin the political and economic support his partnership guarantees, even if China doesn’t want to meddle in Russia’s war in Ukraine.
“Xi is making a significant gesture of political support for Putin with this trip, essentially showing that the relationship will be resilient even under these tense circumstances and that he is willing to live with the opprobrium of the West,” said Andrew Small, the author of “No Limits: The Inside Story of China’s War with the West”.
Beijing had indicated Xi would help boost Russia-Ukraine talks as part of his visit, after Western powers urged China to use its influence over Russia to stop the war.
But ultimately, Small said, “there was too less simulation of “peace mission” than previously reported by Chinese diplomats”.
The visit of the Japanese Prime Minister, Fumio Kishidain Kiev this week in support of Ukraine, coinciding with Xi’s talks with Putin, looks set to deepen the Chinese view that war has become a global war also directed against Beijing.
Strong relations with Russia have become more crucial for China as its ties with the United States have soured.
A turn of events since last year seems to have tempered the mistrust from Xi to Washington, even as he tried to stabilize his relationship with President Joe Biden.
Chinese officials have pointed to US restrictions on China’s access to advanced semiconductors needed for everything from supercomputing to weapons development.
They also condemned the aid efforts of the United States and Great Britain Australia build nuclear-powered submarines in order to counter China’s military growth.
After the conclusion of Xi’s state visit, the Chinese Foreign Minister qin bandreleased a statement about its importance, stating:
“The main contradiction in today’s world is not the so-called ‘confrontation between democracy and authoritarianism’ that a handful of countries have interpreted, but the struggle between development and development containment“.
“Beijing is trying to emphasize to a largely domestic audience that the United States is engaged in a multi-domain, multi-directional, multi-stakeholder effort to actively inhibit China’s continued rise,” said Jude Blanchette, principal of the Freeman Chair in China Studies at the Center of Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
Xi’s term “global containment” is meant to sum up “an effort to curb Chinese growth, block access to technologies state-of-the-art and erode China’s ties with neighboring countries,” Blanchette said.
According to this worldview, Ukraine, instead of being the victim of an unprovoked war by Russia, found itself locked in a proxy battle by the United States and its allies against Moscow – and, by extension, Beijing – aimed at reassert its dominance. cup
This theme is echoed in many recent assessments of the conflict by Chinese state institutions and People’s Liberation Army analysts.
“The outbreak of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine was the inevitable result of the US government’s long-term strategy,” wrote Yang Guanghai, a professor at China’s National University of Defense Technology, in a recent study of the war.
“The position of the United States to exploit Ukraine as a delegation it will not change.
Like Russia, China is also a major target of the United States’ “great competition between the powers” strategy.”
Thus, Xi’s willingness to try to mediate between Kiev and Moscow is likely to remain severely constrained by his broader commitment to stay close to Russia and Putin.
After meeting with Putin, Xi could contact Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
It would be Xi’s first call with the leader since the invasion began. Even if he does, the peace proposal outlined by China is unlikely to win Kiev’s favor because it implicitly echoes official Russian grievances against NATO that could limit Ukraine’s claims.
In their joint statement, Xi and Putin criticized NATO’s efforts to pay more attention to Asia.
Leaders stressed that the China-Russia relationship is superior to traditional Western military blocs because it is “mature, stable, independent and resilient”.
The official Chinese news agency, xinhuapublished an article explaining why the two countries would not want to establish a formal alliance that would force them to help each other in wars.
Some readers weren’t convinced.
“We are not allies in name only,” read one reader’s comment.
c.2023 The New York Times Society
Mary Ortiz is a seasoned journalist with a passion for world events. As a writer for News Rebeat, she brings a fresh perspective to the latest global happenings and provides in-depth coverage that offers a deeper understanding of the world around us.