Xi-Putin Summit Has the West Very Nervous

Even before Chinese President Xi Jinping landed in Moscow on March 20 for a three day state visit, the Biden Administration had announced they would reject whatever proposals came out of their discussions. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby complained to Fox News on the day before that both China and Russia “are chafing against this international rules-based order…. They don’t like that.” And if “coming out of this meeting, there’s some sort of call for a ceasefire [in Ukraine], well, that’s just going to be unacceptable”.

The Biden Administration’s worry is well founded. Both President Xi and President Putin have carefully prepared the summit, and intend to use the personal exchanges to deepen bilateral relations and discuss major international and regional issues. Beijing’s proposal for a negotiated settlement in Ukraine is most certainly on the agenda (cf. SAS 10/23).

Before leaving for Moscow, Xi Jinping penned a op-ed in  Rossiyskaya Gazeta titled “Forging Ahead To Open a New Chapter of China-Russia Friendship, Cooperation and Common Development” in which he recalled that he has made eight visits to Russia since being elected 10 years ago. “I came each time with high expectations and returned with fruitful results, opening a new chapter for China-Russia relations together with President Putin.” This time, he expects they will “jointly adopt a new vision, a new blueprint and new measures for the growth of China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination in the years to come”.

Vladimir Putin, for his part, published an op-ed in People’s Daily, under the headline “Russia and China: A Future-Bound Partnership”, in which he especially emphasizes the importance of trade relations and economic partnership. “In 2022, our bilateral trade, which had already been considerable by the time, doubled to reach $185 billion. This is a new record.” Moreover, the $200 billion target will likely “be exceeded as early as this year instead of 2024.”

In addition to the increase in volume, “the share of settlements in national currencies in our mutual trade is growing, further strengthening the sovereignty of our relations”. Many joint plans and programs for cooperation in energy, industry and agriculture, as well as space research and new technologies are in the pipeline.

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