China and Russia have reaffirmed their close bilateral relationship with Wang Yi, China's top diplomat, visiting Moscow this week. The visit comes just days before the one year anniversary of the start of the Ukraine war. During the visit, Wang is expected to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and President Vladimir Putin.
President Xi Jinping is expected to visit Moscow for a summit with Putin in the coming months, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. Putin welcomed the deepening ties between the two countries, saying it is “very important to stabilise the international situation”. Wang Yi echoed this sentiment, saying that the two countries are ready to “strengthen and deepen” their relations.
The partnership between Russia and China has come under scrutiny in the West after the United States voiced concern that Beijing may be considering supplying weapons to Russia. This has been further intensified since the US suspended the last remaining major nuclear treaty with Russia, leading to tensions between the two powers. Putin and Xi have previously sealed a “no limits” partnership, where no areas of cooperation are “forbidden”, and have maintained this even in the face of international pressure.
This visit to Moscow by the Chinese top diplomat comes at an important time in the changing international situation, with the US casting China and Russia as the two biggest nation-state threats to its security. The US views China as the gravest long-term “strategic competitor” and Russia as an “acute threat”.
The deepening ties between Russia and China has led to a surge in trade between the two countries and has allowed Putin to cast Russia’s isolation in the West as a tilt towards Asia. Wang Yi said he expected to reach a “new consensus” on advancing the relationship between the two countries, though he did not provide any specific details on what agreements may be made. The West will be watching to see what comes from this visit and the upcoming summit between Putin and Xi.
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1. “China's embrace of Russia is mostly for show” Nikkei Asia, 20 Feb. 2023, https://asia.nikkei.com/Opinion/China-s-embrace-of-Russia-is-mostly-for-show
2. “China's top diplomat says Russia ties ‘rock solid'” CNA, 22 Feb. 2023, https://www.channelnewsasia.com/world/china-russia-rock-solid-wang-yi-nikolai-patrushev-putin-xi-ukraine-3296041
3. “China Calls Russia Ties ‘Solid as Rock’ Amid Ukraine Peace Push” Bloomberg, 22 Feb. 2023, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-02-22/china-calls-russia-ties-solid-as-rock-amid-ukraine-peace-push
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