• Investigative Reporting

Alliances to Beware

Updated: Mar 14

China and Russia formalize an alliance that could change global geopolitics.


by Julio Cirino


On February 20, the so-called Winter Olympics concluded in Beijing, the event that overshadowed another that took place simultaneously. That was the meeting between the "Emperor of China" Xi Jinping and the "Tsar of all the Russia” Vladimir Putin. Although it is too early to make a definitive assessment, the information known so far suggests that it is not unreasonable to assume that a strategic alliance was finalized that, at least potentially, can modify the global strategic balance.



Photo of Xi & Putin
Meeting between the "Emperor of China" Xi Jinping and the "Tsar of all the Russia” Vladimir Putin

Let us point out that this is the first time that Beijing and Moscow have jointly and openly opposed any form of increase in the membership of the Atlantic Alliance in very clear reference to the events in Ukraine, but also clearly marking their rejection of the agreement known as AUKUS that unites Australia, Great Britain and the United States.




From a more political philosophical perspective, it is noteworthy that in the long document prepared and signed by both heads of state, nothing less than the redefinition of the concept of DEMOCRACY is addressed by openly pointing out their belonging to that system of government, that is, Russia and China. They define themselves as “democratic countries”. This insistence on redefining the concept of democracy also seems to indicate a change in both China and Russia in their communication strategy, which is becoming much more sophisticated and, without abandoning the old methods, constantly incorporates new content and technologies.


 

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This, we can call it a Russian-Chinese “conjunction”, is not something that came out of nowhere or from a moment of improvisation. Deep changes in geopolitics do not happen like that. It was in the middle of 2019 when Xi made a state visit to Russia and on that occasion, agreements were finalized both politically and commercially, which already marked not only the desire for political survival of both leaders but also that the United States was their main objective, and already at that time the importance of the joint technological developments that both powers were planning was being pointed out.

The other point to remember is that Moscow tacitly accepted (without saying so) a “junior” role in the duo, long gone were the days when Moscow led the “communist world” so to speak. Today both in Moscow and in Beijing it seems to be clear that one of the priorities is to avoid any increase in the number of countries that make up NATO. Let us remember that in November 2021 a rare joint work signed by the ambassadors of Russia and China in the United States had been published in which they highlighted their "long democratic tradition" (Russian and Chinese Ambassadors: Respecting People's Democratic Rights https://nationalinterest.org/feature/russian-and-chinese-ambassadors-respecting-people%E2%80%99s-democratic-rights-197165)


The closeness that, at least in public, both countries seek to present was already clear in a long article presented by the Xinhua agency whose authorship is attributed to Putin, which highlighted that a new chapter was opening in bilateral relations ("Russia and China: A Future-Oriented Strategic Partnership". http://spanish.news.cn/2022-02/03/c_1310452522.htm). In it, in addition to the undisguised search for China's support, Putin takes the opportunity to highlight the importance of accepting international payments in its currency, which obviously seeks to avoid the economic damage that could be caused by sanctions by the United States and his allies.


Let us also remember that in January Beijing announced that its trade with Russia had reached a peak of 147,000 million dollars during 2021, which doubled the 68,000 million of the year 2015.


Possibly we need to go back to the Second World War to find a similar alliance of authoritarian countries to which is added, the apparent personal closeness between both leaders, certainly difficult to assess.


Let us remember that February 20, the last day of the Winter Olympics, coincides with the Russian military exercises to be carried out in Belarus and that not just a few consider it to be the prelude to a military operation. There are reports that indicate that in the coming weeks the temperature will drop enough for Russia's heavy military equipment to safely cross the border with Ukraine.


The moment seems to be favorable for them, not only because of the political-strategic closeness between the two countries, but rather because both in the United States and in the rest of the NATO members, there does not seem to be a clear resolution regarding what to do in the event of a military operation by Russia with the tacit (or explicit) support of China.


50 years have passed since that February 21, 1972, in which Richard Nixon, then president of the USA, and Mao Zedong, then the leader of China, greeted each other, inaugurating what became known as "the week that changed the world". Today China and Russia seem closer than ever, and NATO will be their main objective at this juncture.


It seems very unlikely that the Ukraine issue will be frozen without any resolution one way or the other, if Putin resolved to use force either overtly or covertly, the rest of Europe, the United States and allied countries will find themselves faced with the need to decide which way to go, it will not be easy.

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