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Approaches and tensions: What is expected of China’s relationship with Russia and the US in 2023?

In matters of foreign policy, the president of ChinaXi Jinping, will close his year with a meeting with his counterpart from Russia, Vladimir Putin. Although the format or exact date of the meeting has not been specified, it is known that the leaders will talk before the end of the year, which is of great significance after both nations have assured in recent months that they will deepen their trust and cooperation .

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Meeting in Beijing, Xi and Putin proclaimed “unlimited friendship” between their nations last February, three weeks before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Since then, China has refused to condemn the war and has refused to join other countries in sanctioning Moscow.

The rapprochement seen between the two countries in 2022 was evidenced last weekend when Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi defended his country’s position on the war in Ukraine and pointed out that China would strengthen its ties with Russia next year.

And not only that. Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, now Deputy Chairman of Putin’s Security Council, met Xi on a visit to Beijing also last week.

Regarding the relationship that Beijing and Moscow have maintained this year, Carlos Aquino, an internationalist specializing in Asia and a professor at San Marcos University, highlights the ambivalent position that China has taken regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Beijing has not condemned the invasion, nor has it supported it, it has abstained from voting. Let’s not forget that days before the invasion Putin visited Xi Jinping at the Olympics, they supposedly signed an unlimited association agreement. For perspective, China and Russia are on the same side, but China has said that its position on the war is neutral.“, it states.

Symbolic approach?

After his talk with Xi, Medvedev stressed that China and Russia will reaffirm their alliance and cooperation from now on. However, for Aquino that does not mean that Russia will have help from China in the war. “I think that is out of the question. It is not convenient for China to give help to Russia because it knows that the moment it does so, all the sanctions that have fallen on Russia will fall and China has much more to lose, ”says the expert.

Chinese President Xi Jinping attends the G20 Leaders Summit in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia. (Willy Kurniawan/Pool via AP, File/)

He adds that all China will probably do is prevent Russia from being doomed any more than it already has with its veto power. It will also continue to buy cheap oil and gas from him, but helping him in the conflict is out of the question.

The common interests of China and Russia are obvious. Both have witnessed how the United States is spending more and more on weapons and the NATO alliance in Europe has been strengthened. Aquino also points out that the United States is increasingly reaffirming its presence in Asia, with its alliances with South Korea, Japan, and other countries.

So obviously China sees that there is a coalition against it and of course it is in its interest to have Russia on its side. Let’s not forget that Russia is the biggest supplier of arms. So the relationship between China and Russia is going to be maintained, but that does not imply in any way that China is going to support Russia. The alliance will be more than words. In addition, China already has enough problems with the United States and does not want to further aggravate the situation.”, he points out.

Cooperation between Beijing and Moscow is also expected to continue on the military front. “They are doing joint naval exercises in the East China Sea, their planes (and warships) have done joint patrols in the Sea of ​​Japan and flown around Japan, but China will not give military aid to Russia”.

He adds that military spending is increasing in Russia, China, the US, and also in Asian nations such as Japan and South Korea. “East Asia is further militarized by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the fear of some that something similar could happen in East Asia”, he thinks.

Tense calm with the United States

As for the relationship between China and the United States, it has been a very difficult year, marked by confrontation and economic, technological and military competition. Although it was expected that with Joe Biden as president the aggressive rhetoric that Donald Trump had towards China would disappear, the confrontation has not only not diminished, but has increased.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US President Joe Biden.  AFP

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US President Joe Biden. AFP (SAUL LOEB/)

Especially in the technological area with all the sanctions imposed by Washington. This technological war will continue to increase. It is one of the reasons why China does not want to worsen its relationship with the United States.says Aquino.

Another issue on the agenda between Bijing and Washington is Taiwan. This year we have seen complicated visits by US congressional officials to the island, angering China. Going forward, it is expected that Beijing’s position will not change and that the Chinese rhetoric will continue to be that Taiwan is part of China and that no country has the right to intervene.

Aquino notes that the rhetoric is likely to increase and that there could be more visits by US officials to Taiwan because 2023 is a pre-election year in the US and if there is one thing Republicans and Democrats agree on it is that China “is the enemy”.

Days before the last congress of the Chinese Communist Party that elevated Jinping as undisputed leader, the United States published a national security strategy document in which it says that China is the only country that not only has the intention, but also the ability to challenge the United States in the military, economic and political fields. The confrontation is already there, although I do not think it will reach a military escalation because it is not convenient for China”, adds the expert.

He qualifies, however, that China is not going to do anything to make things worse. “Last month Xi and Biden met and next month US Secretary of State Blinken will go to China. They are not going to improve relations, but the important thing for the parties is that they do not get worse”, he concludes.

Source: Elcomercio

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