Putin, Xi hail ‘no limits’ partnership, assail US policies

Published February 5, 2022
PRESIDENTS Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping talk to each other as they pose for a photograph.—AFP
PRESIDENTS Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping talk to each other as they pose for a photograph.—AFP

MOSCOW: China and Russia proclaimed a deep strategic partnership on Friday to balance what they portrayed as the malign global influence of the United States as China’s President Xi Jinping hosted Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

In a joint statement, the two countries affirmed that their new relationship was superior to any political or military alliance of the Cold War era.

“Friendship between the two States has no limits, there are no ‘forbidden’ areas of cooperation,” they declared, announcing plans to collaborate in a host of areas including space, climate change, artificial intelligence and control of the Internet.

The agreement marked the most detailed and assertive statement of Russian and Chinese resolve to work together — and against the United States — to build a new international order based on their own interpretations of human rights and democracy.

Steeped in ideological discourse, it was not clear whether it would immediately translate into an increase in tangible and practical cooperation despite Putin trumpeting a new gas deal with China on Friday, or was intended as more of a statement of general policy intent.

In a lengthy document, the two leaders go further than before in backing each other on points of tension with the West

“The two leaders are announcing their determination to stand together and to stand against the US and the West, ready to withstand sanctions and contest American global leadership,” said Daniel Russel of the Asia Society think tank, who served as the US State Department’s top diplomat for East Asia under the Obama administration.

While not formally allied, the two “are making common cause as a tactical matter to better defend their respective interests and their authoritarian systems from Western pressure”, he said.

Jonathan Eyal of the London-based Royal United Services Institute said the declaration marked a “frontal rebuttal” of the US and Western view of the world and a possible building block towards a military alliance.

“It’s the most explicit articulation of the ‘making the world safe for dictatorship’ strategy,” he said. “It is a historic point because they both feel cornered and they feel their moment has arrived to state their vision of the world and promote it aggressively.”

The two countries have moved closer together as both have come under pressure from the West on a host of issues including their human rights records and Russia’s military build-up near Ukraine. The timing of their announcement was highly symbolic, at a China-hosted Olympics that the United States has subjected to a diplomatic boycott.

There was no immediate comment from the White House or State Department.

In the lengthy document — nearly 5,400 words in English translation — each went significantly further than before in backing the other on key flashpoints of tension with the West.

Russia voiced its support for China’s stance that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China, and opposition to any form of independence for the island.

China joined Russia in calling for an end to Nato enlargement and supported its demand for security guarantees from the West — issues at the heart of Moscow’s confrontation with the United States and its allies over Ukraine.

The two countries expressed concern about “the advancement of US plans to develop global missile defence and deploy its elements in various regions of the world, combined with capacity building of high-precision non-nuclear weapons for disarming strikes and other strategic objectives”.

Published in Dawn, February 5th, 2022

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