China-Russia relations July 2023-

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China-Russia relations January 2022-June 2023
China and Russia: Four Centuries of Conflict and Concord
A compelling, expansive history of the relationship
between China and Russia,from the 17th century to the present.

14-16 May
China and Russia reaffirm their close ties as Moscow presses its offensive in Ukraine
(AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Thursday reaffirmed their “no-limits” partnership that has deepened as both countries face rising tensions with the West, and they criticized U.S. military alliances in Asia and the Pacific region.
At their summit in Beijing, Putin thanked Xi for China’s proposals for ending the war in Ukraine, which have been rejected by Ukraine and its Western supporters as largely following the Kremlin’s line.
China claims to take a neutral position in the conflict, but it has backed the Kremlin’s contentions that Russia was provoked into attacking Ukraine by the West, and it continues to supply key components needed by Moscow for weapons production.
… Russia-China military ties have strengthened during the war. They have held a series of joint war games in recent years.
China remains a major market for Russian military, while also massively expanding its domestic defensive industries, including building aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines.
Putin has previously said that Russia has been sharing highly sensitive military technologies with China that helped significantly bolster its defense capability.

Putin looks to use China trip to shore up economic support from Beijing amid renewed Western pressure
James Griffiths, Asia correspondent
A week after he was sworn-in for a record-breaking fifth term as president, Vladimir Putin is travelling to China to visit another leader who seems poised to rule for life, Xi Jinping, as both men continue to face down Western pressure to end their “no limits” partnership struck ahead of the war in Ukraine.
Mr. Putin’s two-day visit – which begins on Thursday – comes amid a major Russian military advance in Ukraine, global turmoil over the conflict in Gaza and tough new U.S. tariffs against Chinese electric vehicles and other imports to which Beijing has vowed to respond with “all necessary actions.”
“It is a continuation of a long-term trend, another step towards a greater consolidation of the China-Russia strategic alignment,” said Alexander Korolev, a senior lecturer in politics and international relations at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. “Putin’s visit is a demonstration to the rest of the world that Russia is not alone despite all the sanctions, that China is ready to stand by it and continue economic co-operation.”
Last year, bilateral trade between China and Russia reached a record US$240-billion. Russia is now China’s largest supplier of oil, surpassing Saudi Arabia, while China is a key provider of technology such as telecoms equipment and microprocessors, as well as controversial “dual-use” components – non-lethal technologies that can nevertheless be used for military purposes – that Western governments say have made their way onto the battlefield in Ukraine.
Defying West, Russia’s Putin due to meet Xi Jinping in Beijing
(Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Beijing visit on Thursday is likely to be light on hard deals but will mark the start of his new presidential term with a show of support from his most powerful political partner, Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.
Putin’s two-day mission is expected to highlight the pair’s vaunted “no limits” partnership in defiance from pressure from the United States over Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine.
While diplomats and analysts expect Putin to push Xi for further support for Russia’s war economy, from machines and chemicals to help its military industries to more discounted oil and gas purchases, Putin’s trip is likely to be heavily symbolic of a shared world view centered on countering a U.S.-led order.
Putin backs China’s Ukraine peace plan, says Beijing understands the conflict
(Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin, in an interview published early on Wednesday, said he backed China’s plan for a peaceful settlement of the Ukraine crisis, saying Beijing had a full understanding of what lay behind the crisis.
Putin, speaking to China’s Xinhua news agency ahead of his visit to Beijing this week, said Russia remained open to dialogue and talks to solve the more than two-year-old conflict.
China’s plan and further “principles” made public by President Xi Jinping last month took account of factors behind the conflict, Putin said.
“We are positive in our assessment of China’s approach to solving the Ukrainian crisis,” Putin said, according to a Russian-language transcript on the Kremlin website. “In Beijing, they truly understand its root causes and its global geopolitical meaning.”
And the additional principles, set down by Xi in talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, were “realistic and constructive steps” that “develop the idea of the necessity to overcome the cold war mentality”.
An autocratic bromance
The Xi-Putin partnership is not a marriage of convenience
It is one of vital, long-term necessity
(The Economist) IN MARCH LAST year China’s leader, Xi Jinping, paused at the door of the Kremlin. Before bidding farewell to Vladimir Putin, he offered him a final thought. Using the phrase bainian bianju, shorthand for what China views as a historic change in the world order, Mr Xi said: “Let us promote it together.” Now the two leaders are meeting for the 43rd time—Mr Putin is due to arrive in Beijing on May 16th as the war rages in Ukraine. Russia has become an ever more important partner in China’s push against American might. Economic ties have been growing stronger and there are signs of deepening military links. So far this month America has twice tightened sanctions on Sino-Russian trade. Mr Xi’s government has responded furiously, urging the West to “stop smearing and containing China”.

China will be Mr Putin’s first destination abroad after a sham election in March that gave him a fifth term as president. There is a symmetry of sorts with the meeting in 2023. That came just after China’s parliament had given its rubber-stamp approval for Mr Xi to break precedent and serve a third term as president, and days after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Mr Putin for war crimes in Ukraine. For both men their encounters are a display of contempt for the West’s efforts to hobble autocrats.

Xi invites Putin to China to strengthen “no limits” partnership
Does Putin’s upcoming visit with Xi Jinping signal a continuing “no limits” partnership between China and Russia?
(GZERO media) Ian Bremmer: The relationship is certainly becoming more strategic over time. Not so much because the Russians are changing their behavior. They have very few options at this point. North Korea and Iran are their top allies. Belarus, Syria. I mean, it’s a rogues’ gallery, but China is increasingly finding that their ability to work long term in a stable and sustainable way with America’s allies in Asia, with the Europeans, and with the United States itself becoming more constrained. And given all of that, willingness to be a closer ally with Russia is increasing over time. Just look at Biden putting 100% tariffs on Chinese electric vehicle exports. All of this is sending a message to the Chinese that no matter who’s elected in November, that the US is trying to contain them. And yeah, I think longer term, the more they see that from the US and their allies, the closer with the Russians they will eventually be.

3 May
Russia’s gas business will never recover from the war in Ukraine
Hopes of a Chinese rescue look increasingly vain
(The Economist) When Russia’s leaders stopped most of the country’s gas deliveries to the EU in 2022, they thought themselves smart. Prices instantly shot up, enabling Russia to earn more despite lower export volumes. Meanwhile, Europe, which bought 40% of its gas from Russia in 2021, braced itself for inflation and blackouts. Yet two years later, owing to mild winters and enormous imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from America, Europe’s gas tanks are fuller than ever. And Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned gas giant, is unable to make any profits.
Russia was always going to struggle to redirect the 180bn cubic metres (bcm) of gas, worth 80% of its total exports of the fuel in 2021, that it once sold to Europe. The country has no equivalent to Nord Stream, a conduit to Germany, that allows it to pipe gas to customers elsewhere. It also lacks plants to chill fuel to -160°C and the specialised tankers required to ship LNG. Until recently, this was only a minor annoyance. Between 2018 and 2023 just 20% of the total contribution of hydrocarbon exports to the Russian budget came from gas, and despite sanctions Russia continues to sell lots of oil at a good price.

18 April
Leading Russia Watcher in China Makes Surprise Ukraine War Prediction
Chinese specialist on Russia has delivered a grim forecast for Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine: that it is doomed to fail.
(Newsweek) Peking University professor Feng Yujun is also cooling on the future of Beijing-Moscow relations, writing in a recent op-ed in The Economist that the two nations have diverging visions of the future of global affairs.
Russia is sure to lose in Ukraine, reckons a Chinese expert on Russia
Feng Yujun says the war has strained Sino-Russian relations

20 March
China and Russia: Exploring Ties Between Two Authoritarian Powers (Backgrounder)
China and Russia have expanded trade and defense ties over the past decade, but they’re not formal allies. Experts say Russia’s war in Ukraine could be a turning point in the relationship.
By Clara Fong and Lindsay Maizland
(Council on Foreign Relations) After a long history of disputes, China and Russia have expanded their military, economic, and diplomatic relations in the twenty-first century. The countries are celebrating seventy-five years of diplomatic relations in 2024.
Though ties between them have substantially increased, China and Russia are not natural partners or formal allies, and experts question the strength of the relationship.
Beijing and Moscow’s cooperation is driven by their desire to curb American power and challenge U.S. hegemony despite ongoing challenges to their relationship. …
China and Russia are not formal treaty allies and are not bound to come to the other’s defense. Nevertheless, their emerging strategic partnership has caused alarm in Washington. … At a meeting in February 2022, days before Russia invaded Ukraine, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin said their partnership has “no limits” [PDF] and vowed to deepen cooperation on various fronts.
Xi and Putin are believed to have a close personal relationship. Since Xi came to power, he and Putin have met on forty-two different occasions, far more visits than the Chinese president has had with other world leaders. … The countries have also aligned themselves in multilateral institutions to oppose U.S. influence in the world. Similarly, they have established their own institutions, such as the BRICS (alongside Brazil, India, and South Africa) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), to garner support from developing countries.


24 November
Russian and Chinese executives discuss Russia-Crimea tunnel project
By Greg Miller and Mary Ilyushina
(WaPo) Russian and Chinese business executives with government ties have held secret discussions on plans to build an underwater tunnel connecting Russia to Crimea in hopes of establishing a transportation route that would be protected from attacks by Ukraine, according to communications intercepted by Ukraine’s security services.
The talks, which included meetings in late October, were triggered by mounting Russian concerns over the security of an 11-mile bridge across the Kerch Strait that has served as a key logistics line for the Russian military but has been bombed twice by Ukraine and remains a vulnerable war target.
The negotiations underscore Russia’s determination to maintain its grip on Crimea, a peninsula that it annexed illegally in 2014, as well as Moscow’s growing dependence on China as a source of global support.
Constructing a tunnel near the existing bridge would face enormous obstacles, according to U.S. officials and engineering experts who said work of such magnitude, probably costing billions of dollars and taking years to complete, has never been attempted in a war zone. … Nevertheless, intercepted emails indicate that one of China’s largest construction companies has signaled its willingness to participate.

15-19 October
Putin’s prominence and the shadow of conflict: Key takeaways from China’s Belt and Road Forum
CNN — A two-day global gathering billed as China’s “most important diplomatic event” of the year wrapped up in the Chinese capital on Wednesday, with Beijing touting its outsized role in world development – and its alternative vision to that of the United States.
Two dozen leaders and more than a hundred delegations, largely from the Global South, came together for a packed schedule of forums and bilateral meetings revolving around Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)
The gathering – in which Vladimir Putin was the guest of honor – also provided a window into Xi’s vision for a world absent of the norms and values promoted by liberal democracies.
The gathering left no question over who was the most important world leader in attendance in the eyes of China’s Xi.
Putin was the first among a handful of visiting leaders to deliver remarks at the forum’s opening ceremony on Wednesday. There, and in three hours of bilateral meetings with Xi later that day, the Russian leader stressed his close alignment with China.

China’s Xi and Russia’s Putin discuss Gaza crisis and Ukraine war at belt and road forum meeting
Chinese President Xi Jinping vows to defend ‘fairness and justice’ as he and Russian leader meet for first time since start of Israel-Hamas war
Putin says ‘external factors’ and ‘common threats’ will strengthen Moscow’s ties with Beijing

Putin Visits China to Bolster Ties With ‘My Friend,’ Xi
The Russian leader is likely to push for more economic support when he meets with his Chinese counterpart in Beijing.
(NYT) When President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia meets with China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, during a visit to Beijing this week, both men will likely seek to demonstrate the strength of their “no limits” partnership in challenging the Western-dominated global order
the two countries have called for an end to the violence and a revival of talks about a Palestinian state. …
The Chinese and Russian alignment over the Israel-Hamas conflict reflects their geopolitical ambitions. Both countries have tried to cast themselves as leaders of the developing world, partly to bolster their standing with the oil-rich Arab world. They have also reinforced their own relationship over a common interest in eroding American global power.

Putin to visit China to deepen ‘no limits’ partnership with Xi
Putin to attend Belt and Road Forum Oct. 17-18
Putin’s second visit outside former USSR since war
(Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet Xi Jinping in China this week in a bid to deepen a partnership forged between the United States’ two biggest strategic competitors.
Putin will attend the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing on Oct. 17-18, his first trip outside the former Soviet Union since the Hague-based International Criminal Court issued a warrant for him in March over the deportation of children from Ukraine.

19 September
Kremlin says Russia and China must edge closer to counter Western efforts to contain them
(AP) — A senior Kremlin official on Tuesday called for closer policy coordination between Moscow and Beijing to counter what he described as Western efforts to contain them as he hosted China’s top diplomat for security talks.
Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of Russia’s Security Council chaired by President Vladimir Putin, told Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi that Moscow “seeks progressive development and strengthening of the Russian-Chinese relations of comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation.”
He noted that Putin is set to hold “substantive” talks with Chinese leader Xi Jinping during next month’s trip to Beijing to attend a summit of the Chinese Belt and Road infrastructure initiative.
… Last month, China helped engineer an expansion of the BRICS partnership, which invited six more countries to join what has been a five-nation bloc that includes China, Russia, Brazil, India and South Africa.

17 September
Belt and Road Initiative: Kazakhstan shows how to meet China on its own terms
The Central Asian nation is taking advantage of its strategic location to diversify away from its traditional dependence on Russia
Despite fears of Chinese colonisation, it has succeeded in aligning the belt and road projects with its own development plan, something that can be a lesson for other middle powers
David Morris, senior fellow at the Centre for China and Globalisation, and a research fellow at the Corvinus University of Budapest.
(SCMP) Following this year’s inaugural China-Central Asia Summit and 10 years of the Belt and Road Initiative, is China replacing Russian influence in Central Asia? Kazakhstan confounds the narrative.
As a middle power in a dangerous neighbourhood, Kazakhstan might be expected to be under the influence of China, its much more populous neighbour. Kazakhs have long feared a Chinese invasion, or at the least a slow colonisation.
A closer examination suggests Kazakhstan is taking advantage of its strategic location to diversify its partners and pursue its national interests. It could yield some lessons for other middle powers on how to coexist with China.
After decades of Russian domination as a former republic of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan’s post-independence leader Nursultan Nazarbayev developed a strategy for a multi-vector foreign policy, seeking to benefit from engagement and cooperation with multiple partners and in overlapping regional initiatives. The new president, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, has doubled down on Nazarbayev’s strategy.
Kazakhstan has sought closer links with the United States and European Union, including as a member of the Nato Partnership for Peace. It joined the Organization of Turkic States. It also enthusiastically joined the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union and was the location where President Xi Jinping unveiled his ambitious Belt and Road Initiative.
When it comes to the initiative, Kazakhstan has bent it to its own interests. It offers an opportunity to diversify away from its traditional dependence on Russia. Rather than replacing one dependency with another, Kazakhstan has aligned belt and road projects with its own domestic infrastructure development plan.

14 September
Russia and China Look at the Future of War
By Matthew McInnis
(ISW) Russia and China share a common modernization objective: achieving dominance in decision-making in future wars. Both states are struggling to improve their military personnel quality and integrate the lessons from the wars of the past two decades. Russia is attempting to innovate within a narrower band of military doctrine and operations while addressing the early failures of its Ukraine invasion. China aims to use new doctrine, technology, and integration of civilian expertise with the People Liberation Army (PLA) to leapfrog over US military superiority. The United States must assess the threat from China’s and Russia’s modernization efforts and seek to exploit their respective blind spots and weaknesses.
Exploiting adversary vulnerabilities and building on relative strengths will be crucial for the United States to succeed in its long-term military competition with China and Russia. At the operational and tactical level, the United States has battle-tested forces with extensive lessons learned from recent conflicts. The United States benefits from superior training and a decentralized command structure. However, at the strategic level, the United States struggles with slow and incoherent decision-making processes, making it difficult to establish clear objectives and execute coherent plans. The United States also tends to bifurcate war and non-war operations, unlike Russia and China, which see them as part of a singular conflict. The United States must integrate diplomatic, information, and conventional operations to counter Russian and Chinese hybrid warfare and political campaigns effectively. Despite these challenges, the United States possesses strengths in its alliances, partnerships, transparency, and advanced technologies that can mitigate structural and be the foundation for future success.

12 September
China’s Complex Relations with Russia: Tracing the Limits of a “Limitless Friendship”
Beijing and Moscow are aligned when it comes to fighting the US-led world order. But beyond this common aim, there are many points of bilateral friction.
(Internationale Politik) “Brother in Spirit”: Toward an Authoritarian International Order?
The most important force holding the partnership between China and Russia together is their shared rejection of a US-dominated world that undermines not only their international ambitions but questions their domestic authoritarian regimes. The Sino-Russian Joint Declaration published in February 2022 is testimony of the shared attempt to erect a world order that protects authoritarian rule. This is less inspired by self-confidence but rather reflects the consciousness of both the Russian and the Chinese leadership of their vulnerabilities.

28 August
China, Russia, and the War in Ukraine
The Sino-Russian relationship has become a more intractable problem for the transatlantic alliance. The West should continue to concentrate its efforts on Beijing.
(Internationale Politik) Before Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, the Russia-China strategic partnership was becoming increasingly challenging for the United States and its allies. But since the war began, Chinese-Russian relations have presented more intractable problems for the transatlantic alliance. Chinese support for Russia has enabled the Kremlin to continue its aggression against Ukraine and has helped solidify the refusal of much of the Global South to condemn or sanction Moscow. It has complicated the West’s moves to isolate Russia and exclude it from the global economy.

6 August
Russian, Chinese Warships Operated Near Alaska, Say Senators
(US Naval Institute) A joint Russian and Chinese flotilla sailed near Alaska and the Aleutian Islands earlier this week, two Alaska lawmakers said on Sunday.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) said in a joint statement on Saturday that they were given a detailed briefing on the joint flotilla and said it included eleven ships.
The pair confirmed that four U.S. Navy destroyers, along with a P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, had been dispatched to the location of the flotilla. The Russian-Chinese flotilla did not enter U.S. territory, a defense official told USNI News

5 August
China Expresses Outrage at Russia
By Andrew Stanton
(Newsweek) China criticized Russia after its border authorities allegedly denied a Chinese social media influencer from entering the country, a rare clash between the two countries that have grown closer in recent years.
A Chinese video blogger, known as Jin Wenxin, was allegedly denied entry from Russia after allegedly trying to enter from Kazakhstan, according to a report from the South China Morning Post on Friday.4 August
China to attend talks on Ukraine in Saudi Arabia that exclude Russia
Ukraine hopes to leverage Saudi diplomatic reach
(Reuters) Ukrainian and Western diplomats hope the meeting in Jeddah of national security advisers and other senior officials from some 40 countries will agree on key principles for a future peace settlement to end Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Wednesday he hoped the initiative will lead to a “peace summit” of leaders from around the world this autumn to endorse the principles, based on his own 10-point formula for a settlement.23 July
Will China end Russia’s war?
(GZERO) China can end the war in Ukraine. Xi Jinping is the one major world leader that both Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky would gladly meet with. And China is the one country that has both the carrots and the sticks that can persuade Putin and Zelensky to accept the tough-to-swallow compromises needed to make peace.
China has leverage with Russia. Europe’s post-invasion refusal to buy Russian oil and gas sharply increases China’s importance as an energy buyer. In fact, China bought a record amount of Russian energy over the first half of this year, thanks in large part to the steeply discounted price the war has forced Russia to offer.
But China has more energy suppliers than Russia has alternative high-volume buyers. A Chinese decision to reduce those imports would hurt Russia far more than China. China is also a major supplier of computer chips and other products Russia badly needs and can’t buy elsewhere. These facts give Xi real leverage with Putin if he wants to use it.20 July
Russia and China hold drills in Sea of Japan
(Euronews) Moscow says it has dispatched warships just a day after China said its navy was preparing for joint exercises with Russia
Russia’s Defence Ministry released images on Thursday allegedly showing Moscow and China conducting joint war drills in the Sea of Japan.
According to the Kremlin, the exercises are taking place between the 20th and 23rd of July in a bid to boost military ties between the two powers.
Relations between Moscow and Beijing have grown closer since Russia invaded Ukraine last year, a move China has not condemned.

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