China-Russia Summit: Close Relationship Disrupts Global Stability

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin met in Beijing to demonstrate their close relationship.

It is obvious that any attempt by the authoritarian nations of China and Russia, which are united in their opposition to the United States, to lead the world will cause confusion in the international order.

Putin was invited to China to attend an international forum on China’s “Belt and Road” initiative aimed at creating a huge economic zone. It was his first visit to China since Russia’s aggression against Ukraine in February 2022.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest warrant for Putin on suspicion of war crimes over the aggression against Ukraine. Although China is not a member of the ICC, the fact that Beijing invited Putin, who is under fire from the international community, to the forum and gave him a warm reception is in itself quite unconscionable.

In his talks with Putin, Xi stressed that “the political mutual trust between the two countries is continually deepening” and China and Russia have maintained “close and effective strategic coordination.” He also said, “China is willing to deepen cooperation with Russia and jointly safeguard global justice and fairness and contribute to global development.”

Xi may have expressed his dissatisfaction with the U.S.-led international order. But how can he safeguard “global justice and fairness” as he tolerates Russia’s aggression in violation of international law?

What Xi should do is ask Putin to immediately stop the aggression and withdraw Russian troops from Ukraine. A country that prides itself on its close ties with Russia can hardly be called a responsible global power.

At the summit, Putin praised the Belt and Road initiative, saying that it has been a huge success, and expressed his intention to place importance on relations with China. In an interview with Chinese state television, he also said that China-Russia relations are the foundation of global stability.

The heads of Russian banks, oil, gas, nuclear and other companies also accompanied Putin, and indicated their expectations for strengthening economic cooperation with China.

With its national power in decline and facing economic sanctions by the United States, Europe and Japan due to its aggression in Ukraine, Russia has no choice but to rely on China. Putin’s behavior seems to reflect the reality of Moscow’s subservience to China.

The Belt and Road forum was attended by delegations from more than 140 countries. However, only a few more than 20 countries mainly from Southeast Asia and Africa sent representatives at the head-of-state level, fewer than at the previous two forums.

Ten years have passed since the Belt and Road initiative was first proposed, but concerns are growing among developing countries about China’s support, including so-called debt traps. China should reconsider the way it provides assistance, which is currently seen as prioritizing its own interests.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 19, 2023)