“President Xi’s visit to Russia marks a new milestone in our strategic partnership,” said Russian President Vladimir Putin during a joint press conference with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
President Xi, who is on a three-day visit to Russia, responded by stating that “China and Russia are comprehensive strategic partners of coordination, not allies targeting anyone, but partners with sincere mutual assistance and support.”
The leaders’ comments reflect the deepening ties between the two nations, as they seek to bolster economic and military cooperation amid tensions with the United States and its allies. During his visit, President Xi met with President Putin to discuss a range of issues, including trade, energy, and security. The two leaders signed a series of agreements aimed at boosting economic cooperation, including a $1.5 billion investment deal between the China Development Bank and Russia’s Far East Development Fund. In addition, the two sides agreed to expand cooperation in the energy sector, with China set to import more Russian natural gas and work with Russia to develop a liquefied natural gas plant in the Arctic. The visit also saw the signing of a joint statement on global governance, which called for greater respect for international law and the United Nations Charter, as well as the promotion of multilateralism and the reform of global governance institutions. The growing partnership between China and Russia has been a cause for concern for some Western countries, who fear that the two nations are seeking to challenge the existing global order.
However, President Putin has dismissed these concerns, stating that “we don’t have any plans to create some kind of military alliance.” President Xi echoed this sentiment, stating that “we will continue to adhere to the principle of non-alignment, non-confrontation, and not targeting any third party.” Despite these assurances, the strengthening of ties between China and Russia is likely to have significant consequences for the world, particularly in terms of shifting geopolitical alliances and economic power.
CHINA RUSSIA RELATIONS:
In 1949, a patriotic anthem was composed in the Soviet Union to celebrate Chinese leader Mao Zedong’s visit to Moscow. The song, titled “Moscow-Beijing,” was a rousing military march that extolled the virtues of solidarity between the two socialist nations. The opening lyrics, “Russians and Chinese are brothers forever,” encapsulated the fraternal bond between the two countries, with the Soviet Union depicted as the big brother to the newly-formed People’s Republic of China, still reeling from the devastation of World War II and a civil war. Although China gratefully accepted Soviet aid, the perception of being treated as a junior partner would ultimately sour the relationship between the two nations.
The world’s economic superpower, China is now the senior partner to a Russia that has been weakened by its war with Ukraine and is more dependent than ever on China for economic, technological, and diplomatic support. Trade figures indicate that Chinese exports to Russia rose by almost 20 percent in the first two months of this year to reach $15 billion, while imports from Russia surged by over 31 percent to $18.65 billion. The Chinese yuan has surpassed the US dollar to become the most-traded currency on the Moscow stock exchange. Furthermore, Russia has overtaken Saudi Arabia as China’s largest oil supplier, with nearly 24 percent year-on-year growth in the first two months of 2023.
In light of these figures, it’s clear that China holds the upper hand in the relationship. Its economy is over ten times larger than Russia’s, and it boasts a modernizing military, technological superiority, and significant global diplomatic clout. As President Xi Jinping and President Putin meet in Moscow, it remains to be seen how the two nations will navigate their relationship in a world where China is now the big brother.
Over the past few years, China has been expanding its diplomatic outreach, with President Xi visiting more than 50 countries since taking office in 2013. This has helped to establish China as a major player in international affairs, with its growing influence being felt in everything from trade and investment to geopolitics and security.
CHINA’s DIPLOMATIC STRATEGY:
One key aspect of China’s diplomatic strategy has been to forge closer ties with Russia, which is also seeking to assert its position as a global power in the face of mounting pressure from the West. The strategic partnership between China and Russia has been growing stronger in recent years, with the two countries working together on a range of issues, from energy and infrastructure to military cooperation and global governance.
THE NEW WORLD ORDER IN MAKING:
The relationship between China and Russia has always been one of strategic importance. As China continues to rise as a global superpower and Russia looks to maintain its influence in the world, the two countries have developed a close partnership that has only grown stronger in recent years. According to Chinese analyst Yan Xuetong, “the current China-Russia relationship is the best it has been in history.” This sentiment is shared by many experts, who see the two countries as increasingly aligned in their geopolitical objectives and shared opposition to Western dominance.
The two countries have engaged in a number of high-profile joint initiatives, such as the Belt and Road Initiative and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and have worked closely on issues such as opposing U.S. sanctions and promoting a multipolar global governance system. Despite these shared interests, the relationship between China and Russia is not without its challenges. For example, there are concerns among some Chinese analysts about Russia’s long-term economic viability and the potential for the country to drag China down with it. However, as Yan Xuetong notes, “the China-Russia relationship is characterized by mutual trust, mutual benefit, and win-win cooperation.” As the two countries continue to work together on key global issues, their partnership is likely to remain a key factor in shaping the new world order.
The writer is Secretary General of Pakistan China Friendship Association. He can be reached at: Syeed.Gilani@gmail.com.
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