Twenty years ago, President Vladimir Putin and Chairman Jiang Zemin signed one of the most important international agreements in the post-Soviet history of Russia – the Treaty of Good-Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation between the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation. The concept of a traditional lasting friendship in this Treaty corresponds to the two countries’ fundamental interests and the core motifs of the era. The principles and spirit of the Treaty play an important and special role in the favorable long-term development of bilateral relations between Russia and China.
The two countries’ peoples fought side by side in the anti-fascist war and formed an extraordinary unbreakable friendship with their blood and lives. Amid the changes and crises that have gripped the planet in recent years and the political instability in various regions of the world, China and Russia are keeping pace with the times and continue to enrich the content of mutually beneficial cooperation to benefit their peoples. The close cooperation of the two states gave positive energy to the world community and became an example of a new type of international relations. Despite the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, trade turnover between China and Russia exceeded $100 billion for the third year in a row. The states support each other in regional and international affairs. Beijing and Moscow are opening up new spaces for cooperation in the current era, including cybersecurity protection, the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS), deep space exploration, military cooperation, etc.
Today, the leaders of the two countries often exchange visits and meet at multilateral margins of summits. Under their leadership, scientific and cultural exchanges between China and Russia intensify, and the social foundation of interstate friendship is becoming increasingly solid. Multilateral mutually beneficial cooperation leads to a win-win situation.
On June 28, Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Russian President Vladimir Putin via videoconference. Assessing the level of current bilateral relations and the Sino-Russian Treaty of Friendship signed on July 16, 2001, the Chinese President emphasized that another extension of the Treaty represents “a living practice of building a new type of international relations with a common future for humanity” and is a clear response to American diplomacy based on alliances with one master. “I believe that under the guidance of the spirit of the Treaty, no matter how many obstacles and hurdles must be overcome on the road ahead, China and Russia will continue to unite in their efforts and move forward with determination,” Xi Jinping added.
For his part, Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed: “Amid the growing geopolitical turbulence, the disruption of arms control agreements, and swelling conflict potential in various parts of the world, Russian-Chinese coordination is playing a stabilizing role in global affairs, also influencing the most acute problems on the international agenda, such as settling the conflicts on the Korean Peninsula, in Syria and Afghanistan and reviving the plan of action for the Iranian nuclear program.”
This rapprochement between Moscow and Beijing, which has become a threat to the unipolar world that Washington has been strenuously building over the last thirty years, has caused serious concern in the USA and its Western allies. This concern reached a particular climax during the presidency of Donald Trump, who, with the active assistance of Paris and London, made no secret of his desire to separate Russia and China. The disengagement between the US and Chinese economies was supposed to lead to a new US-Russian reset, making possible a mismatch of strategic interests between Moscow and Beijing.
Despite this year’s change in US political leadership, Western opposition to China and Russia has grown stronger. It eventually evolved into the Biden administration’s enduring vision, which the US leader reiterated at the G7 summit held in June and the G20 Foreign Affairs Ministers’ Meeting. The concept is aimed at accelerating the creation by the US of an anti-Chinese and anti-Russian coalition in the international community “through cooperation with its allies and friends.” “We stand ready to strengthen the cohesion of Western democracies to respond to the harmful actions of the governments of China and Russia,” US President Joe Biden stressed on the eve of the G7 summit, Cornwall, UK, in a June 10 article in The Washington Post.
Despite their demonstrated reluctance to escalate the conflict with the USA, Russia and China do not hide their unpleasantness with Washington’s aggressive policy. On June 24, Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang expressed profound dissatisfaction and strong disagreement: “The USA and some other Western countries still have Cold War thinking and false unipolarity.” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also stated: “We cannot ignore the Western group’s desire to put itself in a privileged position. Strengthening relations with China remains one of Moscow’s top foreign policy priorities.”
As Japan’s Wedge Infinity notes, ironically, this confrontation with the United States, which is its initiator, pushes China and Russia to create and strengthen an alliance, which implies a complication of the problem. America has become nervous about a possible military alliance between Russia and China, although both countries have repeatedly stressed that they do not seek it. Nevertheless, cooperation between Moscow and Beijing is deepening amid pressure from the West. Since the end of the Cold War, China and the USSR have been moving toward mutual strategic cooperation to counter Washington’s desire for a unipolar world.
More than three decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the fronts on the world stage have once again become clear and distinct, according to Welt, German TV channel. On the one side is the West, led by the United States; on the other is the ever-closer tandem of China and Russia, actively developing cooperation amid growing tensions with America.
Attempts by individual states to drive a wedge between Beijing and Moscow and spoil Sino-Russian relations are doomed to fail; both China and Russia are confident. At a meeting with the heads of world news agencies at SPIEF, Vladimir Putin, assessing Russia-China relations, stressed that they are at an unprecedented level and do not depend on the position of the West. Despite the problematic international geopolitical situation, the leaders of Russia and China are setting bold new goals.
Vladimir Odintsov, political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.