The State of Relations Between Russia and China Following Putin and Xi Meeting

By: David Donovan | Published: May 20, 2024

The relationship between Russia and China has been under examination following talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping during a recent state visit to Beijing.

The two world leaders met on May 16th, 2024 as they committed to strengthening ties between Russia and China amid continued opposition to the views of the West.

Leaders Address Controversial Global Topics

During the meeting on Thursday, Putin and Xi talked about a range of topics from the war in Ukraine to the economy which was issued in a statement committing to a deepening of their shared partnership.

Advertisement
Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping walking in a parking lot, the photo is taken from their side profile, and there are flowers in the background along with a car.

Source: Getty Images

The shared vision between the two leaders during their talks points to a mutual desire to be global leaders not under the thumb of the US.

Advertisement

Russian Opposition to the United States Agenda

Conflicts in recent years have seen tensions only further increase between the US and both of these countries. The Biden administration came out as a strong ally to Ukraine following the invasion in February of 2022.

Advertisement
A tank in the foreground and a tank in the background drive down a street, the building behind them is charred and dilapidated, there are soldiers in the two tanks.

Source: Ministry of Defense of Ukraine

Billions of dollars were pledged by the United States to aid Kyiv in defending itself much to Putin’s dismay and sparking fears of renewed threats of nuclear war between the two nations.

Tensions with The US Shared by China

The question of Taiwanese independence has caused much tension between the US and China. Beijing has a “One China” policy which claims Taiwan as part of the country.

Advertisement
The Presidential Office Building in Taipei, is a red brick building with a central tower on a modern street, there is foliage in front of the building along with the Taiwanese flag.

Source: Creative Commons

Although the United States has not come out in support of Taiwanese independence, it has said it would defend the nation in the event of an invasion by China.

Addressing Nuclear War Concerns

Amidst fears of these regional struggles could spawn a wider war with the United States involving the user of nuclear weapons, Russia and China released a joint statement to address these concerns.

Advertisement
A missile bearing the U.S. Air Force name and logo on a wide expanse of the road as machinery and vehicles are seen around it with hills seen in the background

Source: U.S. federal government

China and Russia released a single sentence addressing this fear during their joint statement on May 16th saying: “There can be no winners in a nuclear war and it should never be fought”.

The Greater Implications of Nuclear Weaponry

The position of nuclear weaponry in the greater global context is one that professor at the University of Michigan Javed Ali said was evident from the statement provided by the world leaders.

A large crowd of protestors holding various signs and banners with trees visible in the background.

Source: Creative Commons

According to Ali in Newsweek, the statement “indicates the confidence both countries feel about declared nuclear powers and how those weapons—like for the United States, France, and Great Britain–are part of each country’s national security posture.”

Advertisement

Strong Ties Between Russia and China

Ali continued to comment on the indication that this summit shows a “strong relationship” between the two countries as they stand in opposition to the US and its allies diminishing their influence.

Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping among a crowd of people who are all dressed in suits.

Source: Kremlin.ru

Ali says this current partnership may appear to be more “transactional than strategic” as both countries also require attention to be given to their respective national interests.

Advertisement

Putin’s Warning Still Reverberates

Putin’s statement back in March is sure to still be in the minds of political spectators as he warned that the threat of nuclear war would increase if troops were sent to Ukraine from the West.

Vladimir Putin in front of a flag which is out of focus in the background. He is wearing a dark suit with a spotted tie.

Source: Kremlin.ru

The supply of troops as opposed to weaponry or other supplies has been viewed as a hard line for Russia which allies of Ukraine have not crossed yet.

Advertisement

Putin’s Position Coming Into Talks

While appearances may have positioned the two leaders as equals during their summit, the wider context of Russia coming to Beijing as a heavily sanctioned and increasingly isolated power put Putin at a disadvantage.

Vladimir Putin with deputy chief of staff Sergey Kiriyenko as they are in talks in front of a microphone.

Source: Kremlin.ru

Despite this apparent imbalance, Xi provided a warm welcome to Putin in Tiananmen Square providing a brief hug for cameras as a band played old Red Army songs.

Advertisement

Putin’s High Praise for China

According to the BBC, Putin claimed that he and Xi were “as close as brothers” and continued in praising China’s economy in a move that will impress officials in Beijing who are worried about the state of the economy.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin and President of China Xi Jinping having tea at an informal setting at the garden of Zhongnanhai in Beijing.

Source: Kremlin.ru

Xi’s remarks were much more restrained however, he described the relationship with Putin as a “good friend and a good neighbor”.

Advertisement

Pressure from The US on China

Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned China last month that they should cease trading components with Russia which fuels the ongoing war with Ukraine.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken meets with Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Bali, Indonesia, on July 9, 2022.

Source: U.S. federal government

The commitment to co-operation which was evident during the talks appears to be sending a message to the West that they will not be influenced by pressures from the US.

Advertisement

Comments on Israel Support

The sweeping comments on the state of US cooperation with their allies being “extremely destabilizing”, as per CNN, come as both Russia and China have condemned the support of Israel in its war against Hamas.

Supreme Court of Israel building, lined with trees around it and a cityscape in the background.

Source: Creative Commons

Comments from both countries indicate an effort to strengthen ties across the Global South and align with the backlash in opposition of Israel’s activity in Gaza.

The talks between Putin and Xi point toward a new chapter in relations between Russia and China and signals to the increasing distance being created between the two super powers and the West.

Advertisement