China stated that mutual political trust with Russia continues to deepen as their Vice foreign minister, Ma Zhaoxu, visited Moscow and met with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
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China’s Vice foreign minister visited Moscow this week and met with the foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov. On Saturday, Beijing commented on its bilateral relations with Moscow, saying that both countries enjoy mutual political trust.
The Chinese foreign ministry released a statement in which it said Beijing is looking forward to working with Moscow in order to implement their strategic partnership and promote further growth in their relationship. It further added that Vice Foreign Minister Ma also met with Russia’s Deputy Foreign Ministers, Andrey Rudenko and Sergey Vershinin, and shared views on bilateral and multilateral cooperation, as well as international and regional issues of common concern.
Last year, China and Russia announced a strategic partnership to counter the influence of the United States, without any “forbidden” areas of cooperation.
The statement comes at a time when China finds itself deep in tension with the United States over the flight of a Chinese balloon over U.S. airspace. The United States has termed it a spy balloon, whereas China calls it an airship used for civilian meteorological and other scientific purposes.
Russia – China: “ No Limits” Partnership
On Thursday, Foreign Minister Lavrov said that Moscow’s relations with Beijing had no limits and were of a much higher and broader nature despite not being a formal military alliance. He reiterated the sentiment of a “no limits” partnership which was declared during a meeting on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit last year.
Last year, China’s trade with Russia hit a record of 1.28 trillion yuan, as the latter doubled its exports of liquefied petroleum gas to China to diversify its energy exports amid the western sanctions and price cap on its oil and gas. Last December, Putin referred to Russia as one of China’s leading suppliers of oil and gas, with 13.08 billion cubic meters of gas shipped to China via the Power of Siberia pipeline in the first 11 months of 2022.
Since the Russia-Ukraine conflict began, Moscow has leaned more strongly towards China. It has on multiple occasions voiced its support for Beijing over Taiwan and criticised “provocations” by Washington. China has abstained from condemning Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine or terming it an “invasion.” The Chinese foreign ministry did not mention Ukraine on the latest visit to Moscow. Experts have described Xi Jinping as Putin’s silent partner.
In recent years, China has taken part in many of Russia’s war games, or joint military exercises. In late November, their forces conducted a joint bomber patrol and entered each other’s airfields. In May, their joint bomber patrols also coincided with the Quad Summit. However, the two sides have not committed to any military alliance and remain far from doing so as Moscow is engaged in an ongoing conflict with Kyiv.
Russia – China: Countering the US
The deepening relationship between Moscow and Beijing has put the western world on guard. The United States is considered one of the catalysts in transforming a relationship of distrust into one of mutual trust between Russia and China.
Both Russia and China pose different sets of challenges to the US. The former has been termed a hurricane while the latter as climate change by a US official.
Beijing is a threat to the superpower status of the US and presents a greater geo-economic challenge. Its growing military influence on territorial and maritime areas in Asia and the Pacific near US allies like Japan and the Philippines has invited Washington’s displeasure. Analysts say Beijing seeks to change the US-led world order as it actively advocates for “real multilateralism.”
Moscow, on the other hand, acts as a more immediate and closer military threat to the U.S. and the western allies, as seen in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict. At present, Moscow’s non-c compliance with the New START treaty on nuclear arms control has irked the U.S. as the Kremlin has not allowed inspection on its territory.