Russia, China Coming Closer Amid Mounting Pressure From US

China and Russia have found common ground against the US as Putin, a former spy chief, is strongly disliked by the American establishment while China's relationship with US deteriorated during Trump's regime.

Russian President Vladimir Putin held a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday.

With the growing tension over Ukraine, the international community is keeping a close watch on the outcome of Friday’s meeting between President Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping. Putin is in Beijing for the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics. The US has led a diplomatic boycott of the games in protest against human rights abuse against the Uyghur’s living in the autonomous Muslim majority region of Xinjian. But western athletes are competing in the games.

Hours before the opening ceremony, President Xi and Putin held their first in person meeting since the pandemic and released a long joint statement outlining their view of  international issues. Both China and Russia believe that the US and the West are ganging up against them. Washington warned China on Thursday against helping Russia if the US were to slap punitive sanctions against Moscow. State department spokesman Ned Price said that the West ``have an array of tools’’ that can be deployed against foreign companies, including Chinese companies doing business with Russia. Not that China will heed this warning.

In the last couple of years China and Russia have found common ground against the US. Putin, a former spy chief, is disliked by the American establishment. Beijing a friend of Washington since the early 70’s  as China opened up and American companies rushed there to set up business. Both sides profited from this engagement. It was not until Donald Trump came in and began calling out China for its unfair trade practices and taking away American jobs, that the policy changed. Today America regards China as a future  challenger to its super power status. President Joe Biden has continued Trump’s policy on China. At the moment there is China and Russia on one side and the US and its allies on the other. Stuck between the two are countries like India,  which has traditional close ties with Russia, and is progressively getting closer to the US. New Delhi wants to play footsie with both Russia and the US and engage with every country on policies and issues which benefit India. It is basically the principle of not being bound to either camp and engaging  countries on policies and issues that benefit India’s national interest.

Expectedly there was tremendous interest in the  document released after the Xi-Putin meeting. Expectedly the very long joint statement was critical of the US. The US was mentioned nearly five times. China and Russia supported each other’s core interests.

With the Ukraine crisis and NATO on top of the international agenda, China expressed its solid support for Moscow. The joint statement said that the two leaders  "oppose further enlargement of NATO and call on the North Atlantic Alliance to abandon its ideologized cold war approaches, to respect the sovereignty, security and interests of other countries…’’. China is backing Russia against the expansion of NATO into Ukraine, which Moscow believes impinges on its security.

“Russia and China stand against attempts by external forces to undermine security and stability in their common adjacent regions,” the document read  and “intend to counter interference by outside forces in the internal affairs of sovereign countries under any pretext.”

Russia reciprocated by supporting China on the Indo-Pacific standing against "the formation of closed bloc structures and opposing camps in the Asia-Pacific region and remain highly vigilant about the negative impact of the United States' Indo-Pacific strategy on peace and stability in the region.’’ There was particular mention of AUKUS, the trilateral alliance between the US, UK and Australia. Through this arrangement, Washington and London will provide high-tech nuclear submarine technology to Australia for use in the Indo-Pacific waters.   

Putin also backed China on Taiwan. "Russian side reaffirms its support for the One-China principle, confirms that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China, and opposes any forms of independence of Taiwan.’’

Cross straits relations have deteriorated since Tsai Ing-Wen took over as President of Taiwan. Unlike her predecessor, she has taken a much tougher stand on China. Beijing has met her obduracy with frequent threats and show of force. The US has steadfastly supported Taiwan and promised to defend it were China try to forcibly take over the island nation.

 As the US and its allies target  Russia and China, the two countries are expected to come closer and overlook their differences at this hour of crisis.  

"It's the first time that China and Russia released such a long statement after the meeting between the two heads of state, which includes all the major issues and strategic questions and shows that China-Russia ties have reached an unprecedented level," Lü Xiang, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, was quoted by the Global Times as saying.