China and Russia: the leaders of the multipolar world

This Monday, March 20 and Tuesday, March 21, the leaders of Russia, Vladimir Putin, and China, Xi Jinping, will hold their fortieth meeting, this time in Moscow. The agenda is the same as always: “joint resistance to the challenges of the West”, to Russia’s isolation policy and China’s containment policy. And especially, the deployment and consensus of the 12 points of the Beijing peace plan in the Ukrainian conflict.

Both presidents will hold a private meeting on the same Monday, at an informal lunch, and negotiations will take place on the 21st with the full participation of the entire cabinets of ministers of the two countries. The signing of important cooperation and economic integration agreements is awaited.

During the meetings, the sources emphasize, there will be an exchange of presents by both parties. “They will not be too expensive, but symbolic,” they said. The same sources advanced the possibility of a visit by Xi, guided by Putin, to the recently inaugurated, 70-kilometre long, monumental new circular line of the “metro” (the Moscow subway).

The last meeting was last December, in videoconference format. In it, Putin invited Xi to visit Moscow. In “The Hill”, a prestigious international politics publication that has been published in Washington since 1994, defense analyst Ellen Mitchell affirms that “Xi’s visit to Moscow and the corresponding support from China challenge the US and their allies, who tried to put pressure on the Russian economy through destructive sanctions.”

Bloomberg adds that “the policy of the US and its Western allies, as well as Washington’s quest for world dominance explain the pro-Russian position of most states in relation to the conflict in Ukraine.”

In this context, Russia and China are emerging as defined leaders of a new multipolar world, which is already openly seeking and consolidating relations based on the old principles of non-interference, respect for the self-determination of peoples and solidarity in ties, as set forth by the Movement of Non-Aligned in 1959, in the Ten Principles of Bandung.

The former president and current vice president of the Russian Security Council, Dmitrii Medviédev, has been the architect of this new summit and also one of the promoters of the consolidation, at an unprecedented strategic level, of relations between the two nuclear powers. It was Medvedev who, in December 2022, delivered Putin’s message to Xi in Beijing that set the guidelines for this new level. But it was also this “tough” jurist who, in his capacity as president of “United Russia”, established the interaction between the official Russian party and the Chinese communist party. In fact, Medvedev’s visit was due to an official invitation from the CPC central committee.

The new level already agreed upon between both political leaderships defines the strategic coordination of the foreign policy of Russia and China, joint action within the framework of the UN and the G-20. But there is something that defines this strategy and it is the formation of a joint leadership of the new expressions of this multipolar order: the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (OCSh), the BRICS and interregional entities such as the Eurasian Economic Union and ANSEAN.

Iuri Ushakov, Putin’s international policy adviser, in charge of the summit’s agenda, added to these issues “the problem of technical-military cooperation, which will also be analyzed. (That is why) (Defense Minister Sergei) Shoigu and (Director of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation Yevgenii) Shugaev will participate in the negotiations.”

In this new international political formation, Xi’s visit may activate China’s mediating role in resolving the Ukrainian crisis. The aforementioned Chinese peace plan was agreed upon prior to its declaration in Moscow, in a long and very warm meeting held on the eve of Xi’s visit by Putin and former Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, current Director of the Office of the Central Affairs Commission. Foreign Affairs of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, which makes him the shaper of the line of Beijing’s international policy.

Washington expressed its categorical rejection of this peace plan in Ukraine since it “ratifies Russia’s conquests today.” John Kirby, the outgoing coordinator of strategic communications of the North American Security Council affirmed that his government “does not serve China’s position on the diplomatic resolution of the conflict.”

Conversely, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitrii Peskov noted that “the Chinese plan for regulating the situation in Ukraine, in particular with regard to guaranteeing security, correlates with Russia’s approach.” The 12 points promote the need to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, the resumption of direct dialogue between Moscow and Kiev and call to prevent a further escalation of the conflict.

The Chinese position is even more valuable at a time when the peaceful alternative is at an impasse. Although Moscow has repeatedly stated that it is open to negotiation, Kiev has ordered by decree the denial of any diplomatic opening.

“We highly value the restrained and measured position of the Chinese leadership on this issue,” advised Counselor Ushakov. Our leaders will exchange their assessments of the current situation precisely against the background of the development of the conflict in Ukraine. We will see what conclusions will emerge after this exchange.”

Wang Wenbin pointed out China’s belief that “political dialogue is the only way to resolve conflicts and disputes. Fanning the flames, fueling the fight, unilateral sanctions and maximum pressure will only fuel the tension and make things worse.”
The “Global Times” warned that “despite the efforts of China and the international community to promote peace and talks, the US and some Western countries continue to fan the flames by dumping weapons on the battlefield in Ukraine and throwing blame, even criticizing China for not joining his campaign to condemn or sanction Russia
“It is the United States and Western countries that have become deeply involved in the crisis. The key to resolving the Ukraine crisis is not in the hands of China, but in the hands of the United States and Western countries. If they continue to stir up trouble instead of cooperating, efforts to achieve peace and promote talks are unlikely to be effective.”

The Ukrainian conflict is not the only one that will be on the table. China faces the sharpening of the dispute over Taiwan, generated by the war provocations of Washington that increases the presence of its fleet and its aviation in the South China seas. Xi, in his speech for the resumption of the presidency for the third time, strongly criticized the aggressive US policy in the seas surrounding China and especially the formation of regional military blocs, directly directed against Beijing, such as the QUAD (Australia, India, United States United States and Japan) and AUKUS (Australia, United Kingdom and the United States). Although the QUAD has more political than military characteristics, the AUKUS is clearly warmongering and many observers see it as the eastern NATO.

It is no coincidence that President Xi recalled, in the newly inauguration of his third presidential term, “the achievement of objectives for the centenary of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, in 2027.” According to some North American analysts, precisely for this date Beijing is planning reunification with the island, which has never recognized its separatism. Despite the fact that the Chinese government expressed its desire that this step be through diplomatic means, a military exit cannot be excluded.

China’s military budget has nearly doubled in the past ten years. This makes it possible to maintain the most powerful standing armed forces in the world, with two million soldiers, the largest war fleet, powerful missile units and a huge air force.

The Chinese ambassador to Russia, Zhang Hanhui, one of China’s most prominent Russophiles, justifying Xi’s visit, stated that his country continues to strengthen strategic interaction and that is why it is “back to back” with Russia. This conduct, Zhang said, “provides safe guarantees for global strategic balance and stability.”

Thus, the visit will serve to name things by name for China for the first time: the US is a threat, Russia is the ally with which exemplary international relations are consolidated. The blatant threat of the Anglo-Saxon bloc to the very development model of the PRC, evidenced in the escalation of war provocations but also in the application of economic and commercial sanctions, is what justifies the strengthening of the war power not only of China, but of its irreplaceable strategic partner: Russia.

The recent Russian-Chinese-Iranian naval maneuvers in the Persian Gulf, the anti-terrorist exercises (and actually counter-offensive exercises against eventual invasions) in Chinese, Manchurian and Russian Far Eastern territories mark the beginning of intense military cooperation that also includes the India and Central Asian countries such as Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Tadzhikia.

In February 2022, on the eve of the start of the Special Military Operation (OME) in Donbass, Putin met Xi in Beijing. As a result of the meeting, a “Joint Declaration of the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China on international relations, entering a new era, and stable global development” was issued.

The parties underlined in it their willingness to oppose foreign interference in the internal affairs of sovereign countries and spoke out against destroying world security and the so-called “color revolutions” such as the one that occurred in Kiev in 2014 and before, almost 20 years old, in Georgia.

This Xi-Putin summit can contribute to the next step in the consolidation of this mediation system for the solution of international crises. A definite mark is left, in this regard, by the agreement signed in Beijing between Iran and Saudi Arabia. After many years of enmity between Shiites and Sunnis, overcoming the confrontation makes it possible to further consolidate the multipolar front with the practical inclusion of the entire Middle East in these new relations. An example of this is the visit of Syrian President Bashar Háfez al-Ássad to the United Arab Emirates.

Relations between the two powers were characterized in the February 2022 declaration as “devoid of borders.” The more restless the world is, these relationships become more solid. Wang Wenbin, spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, added that the link “exceeds the limits of bilateral relations.”

“Global Times”, the semi-official communication organ of the Chinese government, stresses that “as a sign of solidarity with the other peoples, Moscow and Beijing tenaciously promote multipolarity and the total democratization of international relations, speaking resolutely against Washington’s attempts to impose to all their interests and provoke a new cold war”.

Wang states that “China and Russia will continue to practice true multilateralism, promote greater democracy in international relations, work to build a multipolar world, improve global governance, and contribute to development and progress in the world.

“Despite the efforts of China and the international community to promote peace and talks, the US and some Western countries continue to fan the flames and dump weapons on the battlefield in Ukraine and shift blame, even criticizing China for not joining its campaign to condemn or sanction Russia

“It is the United States and Western countries that have become deeply involved in the crisis. The key to resolving the Ukraine crisis is not in the hands of China, but in the hands of the United States and Western countries. If they continue to stir up trouble instead of cooperating, efforts to achieve peace and promote talks are unlikely to be effective.”