Putin and Xi Deepen Strategic Partnership Amid Rising Tensions with the West

Putin and Xi Deepen Strategic Partnership Amid Rising Tensions with the West
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BEIJING (AP) — On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed gratitude to Chinese leader Xi Jinping for China's initiatives to resolve the Ukraine conflict during their summit in Beijing. The two leaders reaffirmed a “no-limits” partnership, which has deepened as both countries face increasing tensions with the West.

Putin's two-day state visit to China, one of Russia's strongest allies, comes as Russian forces press an offensive in the northeastern Kharkiv region of Ukraine, marking the most significant border incursion since the full-scale invasion began in 2022.

During the summit, Putin and Xi agreed to deepen their "strategic partnership" and issued a 7,000-word joint statement on "the deepening of the comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation entering a new era." The statement outlined positions on various issues, including economics, space, defense, Ukraine, and Taiwan.

"Both sides want to show that despite global events and pressure from the U.S., they are not about to turn their backs on each other anytime soon," said Hoo Tiang Boon, a professor studying Chinese foreign policy at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University.

The leaders criticized the United States for actions they claim threaten their countries. "The parties reiterate their serious concern over the attempts of the United States to disrupt the strategic security balance in the region," a Russian version of the joint statement said.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who visited Kyiv earlier this week, criticized China for providing non-lethal aid to Russia. He stated that the "overwhelming majority" of machine tools and microelectronic chips for Russia come from Chinese sources, significantly bolstering Russia's defense industrial base.

China claims to take a neutral position in the Ukraine conflict but has backed Moscow’s assertions that Russia was provoked into attacking Ukraine by the West. China continues to supply Russia with key components needed for weapon production. In 2023, China proposed a peace plan that was rejected by Ukraine and the West for failing to call for Russia's withdrawal from occupied Ukrainian territories.

Putin's visit is largely symbolic, emphasizing the strong partnership between two countries facing challenges in their relationships with the U.S. and Europe. The visit marked the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Russia, originally forged between the former Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China in 1949.

Since the start of the Ukraine war, Russia has become increasingly economically dependent on China due to Western sanctions. Trade between the two countries reached $240 billion last year, helping Russia mitigate some of the economic impacts of the sanctions. Moscow has redirected much of its energy exports to China and relies on Chinese companies for high-tech components for its military industries.

Military ties between Russia and China have also strengthened during the Ukraine war. The two countries have conducted joint war games, including naval drills and patrols by long-range bombers. Putin has previously stated that Russia is sharing highly sensitive military technologies with China, significantly bolstering its defense capabilities.

Both leaders reaffirmed their commitment to supporting each other on the international stage and developing joint strategies to address global challenges. Xi congratulated Putin on his election to a fifth term in office and emphasized the need for further integration of their countries' interests.

Putin and Xi's meeting in Beijing underscores the deepening partnership between Russia and China, highlighting their shared goals and mutual support in the face of increasing Western pressure.