Smiles, smiles and more smiles. Faced with tensions with the West and the American Joe Biden's Summit for Democracy, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping have shown a common front on Wednesday against the attempts of “certain international forces” to divide them and of “interference in their internal affairs.” In a meeting by videoconference with a cordial atmosphere – laughing, even – judging by the statements and excerpts broadcast by their respective televisions, the leaders praised the relations between Russia and China, which, although not a formal alliance, are a “ coordination model ”.
The good harmony exhibited at the summit between the two great rivals of the United States contrasts with the geopolitical climate outside it: the accumulation of Russian troops on the border with Ukraine has unleashed tensions between Moscow and the West, which fears a new invasion of the country neighbor of Russia. And Beijing and Washington live in a constant fencing game of measures, countermeasures and threats around the human rights situation in Xinjiang or Hong Kong, their commercial and technological rivalry, and more recently the Winter Olympics than the Chinese capital. will host next February.
While the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada have announced a diplomatic boycott of that sporting event, Putin reiterated on Wednesday his promise to travel to the inauguration for a new meeting with the leader he described as his “dear friend” —Xi se addressed Putin as “old friend” -. It will be the 38th time since 2013 – when the Chinese president came to power – in which both leaders meet, in a bilateral relationship that has been intensifying as their respective countries' relationship with the White House deteriorated and is seeking serve as a counterweight to the influence of Western powers.
Beijing and Moscow, Xi stressed, according to reports released by Chinese state media, should strengthen their cooperation on international affairs and “carry out more joint operations to more efficiently safeguard security and mutual interests.” “We firmly support each other on issues related to each other's fundamental interests, and in protecting the dignity of each country,” added Xi, who also praised his Russian counterpart for stopping attempts by the “forces international “for” creating divisions “between Russia and China.
Putin, who described relations between Moscow and Beijing as a “true model of interstate cooperation for the 21st century”, highlighted in the videoconference, which lasted a little over an hour, the “close coordination” between both capitals in the international arena . “A new model of cooperation has been formed between our countries, one based on foundations such as non-interference in internal affairs and respect for the interests of others,” said the Russian leader, who is trying to make visible that, before The threat of sanctions from the United States and the EU if it attacks Ukraine, has valuable allies.
The meeting between Putin and Xi comes a week after the Russian leader's conversation with his American counterpart, Joe Biden, to try to de-escalate the crisis over the concentration of troops along the Ukrainian borders. Since then, Putin has held talks with other leaders, such as French President Emmanuel Macron or UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Russia has demanded that the United States withdraw its military support for Ukraine and that NATO make it clear that it will not include Kiev and other countries in the region in which Moscow tries to maintain its influence.
Approach of rivals
The rapprochement between Russia and China, tense rivals for most of the second half of the 20th century and who share a 4,200-kilometer border, began in 2014. Then, a China in need of diversifying its energy sources and reducing its consumption of coal The pollutant took a step forward to acquire gas from a Russia that in turn suffered from the effect of Western sanctions after its annexation of Crimea in February of that year, considered illegal by the international community (annexation that China, despite this rapprochement, did not It has been recognized).
Since then, the commercial relationship has intensified and in the first nine months of 2021 it has exceeded 100,000 million dollars (almost 89,000 million euros), according to Xi in the conversation. The cooperation has extended to the area of security and defense, and both countries carry out coordinated military exercises regularly. Last October they completed patrols on a par in the Pacific for the first time. They have even committed to developing a joint lunar base.
Both agreed to enhance the development of their cooperation in areas such as economy, trade, energy and technology, and increase their coordination in regional and international affairs. Putin and Xi even talked about the formation of an “independent financial infrastructure,” explained one of the Kremlin's aides, Iuri Ushakov, apparently in an effort to reduce their dependence on Western banks and their vulnerability to Western sanctions.
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