Foreign Affairs
Vladimir Putin’s Beijing Visit: China’s Economic and Diplomatic Backing

Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to meet with Chinese leaders in Beijing this week, highlighting China’s economic and diplomatic support for Moscow during its war in Ukraine. The two countries have formed an informal alliance against the United States and other democratic nations, which is complicated by the Israel-Hamas war.

China is attempting to balance its economic ties with Iran and Syria, which are strongly supported by Russia, with its ties with Israel. Putin’s visit is also a show of support for Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road drive to build infrastructure and expand China’s overseas influence.

The visit is expected to mark the 10th anniversary of Xi’s announcement of the policy, which has laden countries like Zambia and Sri Lanka with heavy debt after signing contracts with Chinese companies to build infrastructure.

Putin and Xi will discuss growing economic and financial ties between Moscow and Beijing, with a focus on financial relations and creating further incentives for payments in national currencies. The volume of payments is growing rapidly, with good prospects in high-tech areas and the energy sector.

Alexander Gabuev, director of Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center, believes Russia is a safe neighbour, a source of cheap raw materials, support for global initiatives, and a source of military technologies.

Russia sees China as its lifeline, economic lifeline, and a major market for Russian commodities. While Moscow and Beijing may not forge a full-fledged military alliance, their defense cooperation is expected to grow. Russia sees China as a vital source of sophisticated technological imports, including dual-use goods for the Russian military machine.

Russia and China are unlikely to form a military alliance, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Gabuev. Both countries are self-sufficient in terms of security and benefit from partnering, but neither requires a security guarantee from the other. Instead, they will focus on closer military cooperation, interoperability, and joint efforts to develop a missile defense.

China and the former Soviet Union were Cold War rivals for influence among left-leaning states but have since partnered in economic, military, and diplomatic spheres. Before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, Putin met with Xi Jinping in Beijing, signing an agreement pledging a “no-limits” relationship.

Beijing’s attempts to act as a neutral peace broker in Russia’s war on Ukraine have been dismissed by the international community. Xi visited Moscow in March as part of exchanges between the sides.

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