Moscow and Beijing are global partners
Note: this is a machine translation from the original Russian text
The Chinese leader confirmed his readiness to develop close strategic relations with Russia.
The conversation between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping on December 30 was the fourth substantive meeting of the leaders of the two countries in 2022, which in itself speaks about the level of partnership. They spoke on the phone several times. No other country can boast of such an intensity of contacts with the Chinese leader.
Rumors about these negotiations have been going around for a long time, there were many different assumptions and speculations, but even after they took place, the situation did not completely clear up. Communication took place via closed videoconferencing channels. For obvious reasons, the content is disclosed very limited.
Earlier, Presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov outlined the range of topics in an extremely lapidary way: bilateral relations, including economic ones. As well as acute problems that concern China and Russia, including the conflict in Ukraine. At the end of the talks Dmitry Peskov said: "The President expressed confidence that through joint efforts it will be possible to bring cooperation between the countries to a new, even higher level for the benefit of the Russian and Chinese peoples, in the interests of strengthening stability and security on the regional and global dimensions."
At the beginning of the meeting, President Putin said in general terms that it was devoted to summarizing the work and plans for the further development of Russian-Chinese relations, as well as exchanging views on the most pressing international issues. It is noted that "in the conditions of increasing geopolitical tension, the importance of the Russian-Chinese strategic partnership as a stabilizing factor is increasing. Our relations stand up to all tests with dignity, demonstrate maturity and stability, continue to expand dynamically, are the best in history, and represent a model of cooperation between major powers in the XXI century." The Russian President noted the increase in the volume of trade between the two countries, the strengthening of military and military-technical cooperation and the restoration of humanitarian exchanges.
The Chinese leader confirmed all this in his response, expressing his satisfaction with the development of multifaceted relations with Russia.
A version is actively circulating that the leaders of the two countries also discussed in the closed part of the conversation what was contained in the message of the President of the Russian Federation, which was delivered to Beijing on December 21 by Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev. According to Dmitry Peskov, the message of the President of the Russian Federation to the President of the People's Republic of China again concerned bilateral relations, the international situation and partnership between Russia and China. There were few specifics. "The parties checked their watches on a number of significant international issues, noting the broad coincidence of Moscow and Beijing's approaches to the most pressing world problems, touched upon the subject of strategic foreign policy coordination, including within the UN and other multilateral platforms, including the SCO, BRICS and the Group of Twenty. "The situation in the post–Soviet space, including the Ukrainian crisis, was discussed," the secretariat of the Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation reported. It is hardly by chance that Medvedev's trip coincided with the voyage of the President of Ukraine to the United States. "While Zelensky is visiting Washington, Putin is sending an assistant to Beijing. The Kremlin spread the news about the visit to China just a couple of hours after the information about the Ukrainian president's trip to the United States was made public," the American edition of Politico noted.
Chinese media reported about the talks of the leader of the People's Republic of China not with the deputy chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, but with the chairman of the United Russia Party, who came to China at the invitation of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC). Which was quite true.
Dmitry Medvedev arrived in Beijing precisely as the leader of the ruling United Russia party and was accompanied by a party delegation, which included, in particular, the Secretary of the General Council of United Russia, Vice Speaker of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation Andrey Turchak and the head of the United Russia faction in the State Duma Vladimir Vasiliev. And in this sense, Dmitry Medvedev and Xi Jinping met on equal terms – as leaders of the leading political forces in their countries.
Commenting on the talks, Dmitry Medvedev noted that, among other things, they discussed issues of interaction "between the two ruling parties" – the CPC and United Russia. This is all the more curious, since leadership in inter-party cooperation with a neighbor previously seemed to belong to the Communist Party. But recently, a different track of negotiations has appeared here.
After receiving the message, the Chinese leader said that China is ready to move closer to Russia for the sake of more equitable global governance, and assured that the development of the Sino-Russian partnership is a long-term strategic choice made by both sides. It's worth a lot. However, with one caveat. On the one hand, the Chinese side makes it clear that it would like an early cessation of hostilities in Ukraine, on the other hand, it expresses understanding of the origins of the conflict and Russia's concerns in the sphere of ensuring its security.
President Putin has put the closeness of views in such a formula: "You and I have the same view on the causes, course and logic of the ongoing transformation of the global geopolitical landscape, in the face of unprecedented pressure and provocations from the West, we defend principled positions and defend not only our interests, but also all those who stand for a truly democratic world order and the right of countries to freely determine their fate."
Xi Jinping replied in the affirmative: "In the face of a difficult and far from unambiguous international situation, we are ready to increase strategic cooperation with Russia, provide each other with development opportunities, and be global partners for the benefit of the peoples of our countries and in the interests of stability throughout the world."
The result is as follows. It is obvious that all attempts by the West to drive a wedge between Russia and China, to drag China "to the right side of history" have failed. And at the meeting, the leader of the People's Republic of China once again confirmed his principled position of support for Russia. Over the past year, Beijing has never voted for an anti-Russian resolution at the UN. The foreign ministries of the two countries continue to coordinate the policies of the two countries in the international arena. Cooperation has intensified within the framework of international organizations – BRICS, SCO, as well as the integration of the "One Belt, One Road" and Eurasian integration projects.
The day before, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi scolded U.S. Secretary of State Blinken by phone, who tried to inquire about the content of President Xi's conversations with Dmitry Medvedev and made hints about Sino-Russian relations. And this is despite numerous warnings that this does not concern anyone except Russia and China, and even the United States – the global controller – is the third extra here.
The strategic partnership between Russia and China also has an increasing military component. As the official representative of the Ministry of Defense of the People's Republic of China Tan Kefei stated on December 29, the Sino-Russian naval exercises of the fleets of the two countries held in the Far East in December 2022 "further deepened the comprehensive strategic cooperation between China and Russia in a new era." "The navies of both countries have demonstrated the determination and ability of China and Russia to strengthen the joint response to threats to maritime security, as well as to maintain peace and stability at the international and regional levels," Tan Kefei said. He also stressed that the exercises "further deepened the comprehensive strategic cooperation between China and Russia in a new era." By the way, this is already the 78th joint military exercises, which have become more frequent since 2014.
That is, there is absolutely obvious progress in relations between Russia and China, even despite the military actions in Ukraine. There is also a fairly noticeable increase in trade turnover, which this year will be a record. However, this growth, still calculated in US dollars, is partly due to rising energy prices, as well as due to Russian exports to China. Chinese supplies to Russia so far leave much to be desired, especially in terms of high-tech products, in which Russia is interested after the departure of Western companies and the cessation of imports from unfriendly countries. Maybe the leaders of the two countries talked about this, too?
Nevertheless, this year's trade turnover will probably amount to at least 180 billion dollars. And maybe more. That is, for the second year in a row, it has increased by a third, and, apparently, the task set by the leaders of the two countries – to reach the $ 200 billion mark in 2024 – will be successfully completed and even exceeded.
The turn to the East took place completely. Although at the moment there are bottlenecks in the development of trade. In particular, problems with the transportation of goods, which, according to Chinese Ambassador Zhang Hanhui, arise, among other things, due to bureaucratic delays on the Chinese side. Sometimes these obstacles can be removed only during contacts at the highest level. Probably, this topic could also be raised by the President of Russia.
Of course, we are still a long way from the United States, which trades with China annually for $ 750 billion. But in the wake of the deterioration of political relations, mutual criticism and sanctions, the growth in the volume of Sino-American trade in the first seven months of this year amounted to 9.5%, that is, the growth rate is inferior to the Russian-Chinese, and there is a tendency to strengthen this dynamic.
But shouldn't we take a step back and look at the situation from a certain historical perspective? "Ten years have passed since President Xi Jinping was elected General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, and President Putin was re-elected President of Russia. Over these ten years, socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era, and Sino-Russian relations have also entered a new era."
It is obvious that now we can sum up the results of the decade during which Russia and China radically converged and moved away from the undivided orientation of the two countries to the West. It is worth remembering that the first foreign country visited by Xi Jinping after taking office as President of the People's Republic of China was Russia (2013). In his speech at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, Xi Jinping for the first time proposed to the world the concept of a "Community of the common Destiny of Mankind", presenting China's plan to cope with changes in the world. This was, in fact, the starting point of changing the vector of China's foreign policy.
Over the decade, President Xi Jinping and President Putin have held about 40 detailed meetings, and their contacts by phone and correspondence have exceeded a hundred. The frequency, breadth, and depth of their interaction are unique for the leaders of major powers. This has determined a high level of political mutual trust, the dynamics of strategic cooperation, and the development of relations in all spheres. As a result, the volume of trade between the two countries has doubled from $88.16 billion in 2012.
We sometimes predict that in the coming years China will completely sever its relations with the United States and reorient itself to Russia. Of course, China will not do this, it is governed by pragmatists, proceeding primarily from national interests. But Beijing will objectively push the US foreign policy, the general course of development of global processes. The deep contradictions between China and the United States, with all the versatility and depth of their relations, will increase, and this is already happening. The sanctions war, political and military pressure on China are forcing Beijing to reconsider its approaches in the field of foreign policy. Here, a reliable partnership with Russia will be of increasing importance for China.
It is difficult to expect that in the coming years Russia will be able to replace the United States as one of China's main economic partners. But nevertheless the trend is on the face. Along with the reorientation to its own forces, to interaction with the countries of the "One Way", China will expand trade and economic relations with our country. The question here is even more, what can we offer our neighbor besides hydrocarbons and raw materials?
During the meeting on December 30, an agreement was reached on the state visit of the President of the People's Republic of China to Russia, which is to take place in the spring. "This will demonstrate to the whole world the strength of Russian-Chinese ties on key issues, will become the main political event of the year in bilateral relations," the Russian president said on this occasion.
It can be added that the upcoming visit will open a new decade of deepening and expanding Russian-Chinese cooperation. As the Chinese say, relations are in a "new era".