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China’s Xi and Russia’s Putin set for face-to-face at Olympics as Ukraine tensions flare

Putin is one of a small group of world leaders attending the convention as Western governments, including the United States, United Kingdom and Australia, have declared a diplomatic boycott of China’s human rights records. Other leaders declined the invitation because of Beijing’s strict Covid-19 regulations.

This means that the 2022 Beijing Olympics are in contrast to the 2008 Summer Olympics. US President George Bush and other Western leaders at the time were willing to play Chinese officials while cheering for the national team.

Instead, this Olympics is set to Spotlight The space that emerged between China and the West, while the summit (and Putin’s top claim on the list of visiting officials released by China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs) showed closeness between the two neighboring powers.

Many Westerners are now asking these Olympics a reenactment of what happened when Beijing last hosted the Olympics when Russia invaded another former Soviet state, Georgia. Whether it can be seen in. And as tensions continue to rise at the Ukrainian border, all eyes will be on Putin.

Alexander Gabuev, Senior Researcher in the Asia-Pacific Program at the Carnegie Moscow Center and Chairman of Russia, said:

The fact that it represents the first face-to-face meeting between two leaders in more than two years only helps to emphasize its importance. Xi has not left China since January 2020 and instead relies on “cloud diplomacy” to speak at major international events and meet with foreign leaders via videolinks. He did not host foreign officials throughout 2021 because China maintained its closed borders and its “Zero Corona” policy.

In the final face-to-face meeting, Mr. Nishi welcomed Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni in Beijing in November 2020, and before that, he visited Pakistan’s President Arif Alvi in ​​March of the same year to meet.

New alliance?

All of this was a hit when Beijing and Moscow refined their partnership in coordinating trade, technology and military exercises, with China “a so-called alliance and a small creek.”

In a December video call with Putin, Xi called on China and Russia to “strengthen coordination and cooperation in international affairs” and to reject “hegemonic acts and the Cold War spirit.”

Analysts say Beijing remains broadly vague and is likely to seek peace regarding future Russian actions against Ukraine, but China has already sympathized with Moscow’s message to NATO. Are-along the Russian border seeking security to limit the footprints of the organization.

In a phone call last week between Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Wang urged him to take “Russia’s legitimate security concerns” seriously.

Russia and China have a long history of supporting each other in what they consider to be Western interference with domestic affairs, pushing back US-led sanctions, and often voting as a UN block.

On Monday, China was the only member of the UN Security Council to vote with Russia to dismiss a council meeting convened by the United States to discuss Russia’s military buildup at the Ukrainian border. Stir the hysteria. “

According to Gabuev, neighboring countries have approached over time due to economic ties, the need for security along the border of more than 4,000 kilometers (2,485 miles), and similarities in the nature of the regime.

But the “secret source” of their close relationship in recent years, he said, was a simultaneous conflict with Washington.

“Russia (relationship with the United States) is getting worse … and China has seen a consistent US policy to compete with China,” Gabuev said.

2021 was the year of the flag of relations between China and Russia. Both sides have renewed their 20-year treaty on friendship and cooperation, earning a record $ 146 billion in bilateral trade and proclaiming that their relationship has reached the “highest level” in history. ..

They also looked like a pillow Coordinating military exercisesConducted a large-scale joint military exercise in northern China, First joint venture between China and Russia Navy patrol in the western Pacific.
These relationships are not yet Far from the formal army However, experts say the alliance has avoided being directly involved in each other’s potential conflicts. This is likely to be the case in the case of recent tensions.

“Beijing is likely to understand Russia’s security demands on NATO and the United States and oppose Western provocations and sanctions, but has no real interest in being involved in Russia’s conflict with NATO.” Associate Professor Anna Killiva said. She is a professor at Moscow State Institute of International Relations. “Moscow policy makers are familiar with this position.”

But conflicts in Europe will undoubtedly help strengthen relations. Especially when Russia is slapped by strict western sanctions and Moscow’s economic reliance on China has increased. Beijing could also benefit from diverting the US’s focus from competition with China, analysts said.

Putin-Xi Friendship

The Friday meeting prior to the convention may also show another aspect of China-Russia dynamics: the close personal relationship between the two leaders.

It was shown for the summit, and in December Xi called Putin his “old friend” and said he was “extremely looking forward” to their Olympic gathering.

“Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin are far more supportive of each other than the recent pair of leaders from both countries on all the structural issues that make China-Russia relations a complex and difficult strategic partnership.” Steve said Tsang, director of SOAS China Institute, University of London.

“Both have a personal element of chemistry in that they are strongman leaders, and we both appreciate each other’s efforts,” Tsang said.

China's President Xi Jinping (R) is shaking hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin before the meeting in the Moscow Kremlin on July 4, 2017.

President Putin will explain Russia’s talks with the United States and NATO to the Chinese side last month, and Russia’s state media is expected last month to focus on strengthening cooperation across various areas. Stated.

According to Yu Bin, a professor of political science at Wittenberg University in Ohio and a senior researcher at the Russian Research Center at Huadong Normal University in Shanghai, such face-to-face meetings “liven up” bilateral relations. Provide an opportunity.

“At the individual level, remember that both Putin and the West are fans of different sports. They will enjoy the Olympics while talking about world issues,” he said. , Is imminent.

But deep questions about what will happen in the conflict between the western part of Russia and Ukraine must be at the meeting.

Last month, the United Nations approved the customary “Olympic truce.” This is a cessation during the Games, although Russia’s past invasion of Georgia and the Russian troops that occupied the Crimea region of Ukraine following Russia’s own Winter Olympics in Sochi stand out in recent memory. ..

But Putin may step lighter today, given national relations, according to Gabuev of the Carnegie Moscow Center.

“My guess is that Russia is concerned about China’s sensitivity to the opening ceremony and perhaps part of the Olympics,” he said.

“Russia wants to get enough attention in the media and doesn’t want to get attention from Putin’s West Conference … (it reinforces the message) Russia is not itself, but another We have partnerships with the world’s superpowers. “



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