The Russia-Ukraine war has been going on for nine and a half months and shows no sign of ending. Recently, the CCP seems to be keeping its distance from Russia in public, though the news released by U.S. media shows that this is just on the surface. In fact, Xi Jinping is asking the regime to strengthen economic ties with Russia, and the two leaders will hold talks at the end of December. Meanwhile, a source pointed out that an internal reference once warned officials that establishing a close relationship with Moscow would not bring much benefit. Such a warning, however, has been criticized by Xi.
Xi Jinping is strengthening cooperation with Russian president
Since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine war, the CCP hasn’t publicly condemned Russia, even defending Russia, accusing NATO of expanding its territory to the east. Taking advantage of Russia’s growing isolation from the West, China has been increasing its purchase of Russian oil for its own profit. In this war, the defeat of the Russian army on the battlefield made the outside world pay attention to the direction of CCP-Russian relations.
In recent months, as Russia suffered defeat in its war with Ukraine, Xi sought to distance the regime from the Russian government in public.
The Wall Street Journal reported on December 14 that behind this diplomatic façade, Xi is increasing his long-term bet on Russia.
Xi Jinping has directed his officials to strengthen economic ties with Russia, according to CCP policy advisers. That would further reinforce the trade relationship between the two countries that has not only strengthened this year, but become a lifeline for Russia in the face of Western pressure.
The plans include increasing imports of Russian oil, gas, and agricultural products, the advisers said, and strengthening joint energy cooperation in the Arctic, and increasing Chinese investment in Russian infrastructure such as railways and ports.
In addition, Russia and China are increasingly using rubles and yuan in financial transactions instead of euros or dollars. A move that could give both sides protection from future sanctions, and push the yuan into wider circulation.
According to Voice of America on December 14, by the end of 2022, China and Russia will have made further progress in energy and military cooperation. On November 30, Russian and Chinese strategic bombers made a joint flight over the Western Pacific. Russian bombers landed on Chinese soil for the first time as part of the joint exercise, while Chinese bombers also flew to a Russian airbase.
On November 29, Xi sent a congratulatory letter to the 4th China-Russia Energy Business Forum, saying that the CCP is willing to work with the Kremlin to build closer energy partners.
Sun Yun, director of the China Program at the Stimson Center, a think tank in Washington, said Xi is strengthening China’s ties with Russia, which is largely unaffected by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Sun said that CCP-Russia relations are likely to become closer.
The Wall Street Journal pointed out that Russia and the CCP have long sought to weaken the influence of the United States in the world. In recent years, this common goal has received more attention and the two countries increasingly believe in the possibility of reshaping international order. Both the Chinese regime and Russia believe that the current international order benefits the West and its allies.
On the eve of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and just before the opening of the Beijing Winter Olympics, the CCP and Russia issued a joint statement on February 4, declaring that the two countries “have no limits for friendship and there is no restricted area for cooperation.”
Xi’s enduring admiration for Russia and President Vladimir Putin is said to have bolstered efforts to develop ties with China’s northern neighbor.
In 2013, Xi chose Moscow as the destination for his first foreign trip after coming to power. He once told Putin, “We share the same personality”.. Xi also said that Putin is his best friend.
Xi criticizes Tsinghua University article
The Wall Street Journal quoted insiders and reported that Tsinghua University was authorized by the General Office of the Central Committee of the Communist Party to write a research report and send it to Xi as an internal reference.
The Tsinghua University article argues that Russia’s economy has no future, while China’s economy is more closely related to the U.S. and other Western countries. This means that although China is building a close relationship with Russia it will reap little reward.
People familiar with the matter said that Xi at the time criticized the Tsinghua University article as nonsense.