President Putin's expectations from his visit to China

Visiting China immediately after taking office for his 5th term, Mr. Putin seemed to want to convey the message that Moscow and Beijing will always stand together, despite all pressure.

Russian President Vladimir Putin paid a state visit to China on May 16-17 at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping, marking his first foreign trip since taking office for his 5th term. according to the Kremlin.

China’s Foreign Ministry said President Xi and President Putin will discuss bilateral relations as well as “international and regional issues of common concern”. The two-day visit is expected to highlight the “unlimited” partnership between the two countries.

Russian President Vladimir Putin at a meeting of the new cabinet in Moscow on May 14. Image: AFP

Diplomats and analysts say that with this visit, the Kremlin boss seems to hope to push China to further support Russia’s wartime economy in many aspects, from providing machinery machinery and chemicals to serve the military industry to agreements to sell oil and gas at more preferential prices.

On the other hand, the visit also has a strong symbolic meaning, showing the common vision between Russia and China focusing on efforts to counter the US-led world order.

“China is Russia’s strategic partner. This is the path chosen by the Russian President and Chinese leaders. Nothing will change that, no matter what the West tries to say or do,” an official said. Anonymous Russian official confirmed.

Cui Heng, a scholar from the Institute for Judicial Cooperation and International Exchange under the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, said on May 14 that the world will definitely pay attention to the meeting between the top leaders of the two countries to see How the Russia-China relationship has been raised to new heights, when the strategic relationship between the two powers always has great influence on the international arena.

According to Adil Kaukenov, director of Russia’s China Institute, President Putin’s choice of China for his first state visit after taking office shows the “increasingly strong” relationship between the two countries.

“We should also pay attention to China inviting him. This shows a very serious basis for Russia-China cooperation,” Kaukenov commented.

According to the announcement, President Putin will discuss economic relations with Chinese Prime Minister Li Qiang and visit Harbin, a city in northeastern China and deeply influenced by Russia.

Mr. Putin’s visit took place after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken came to Beijing late last month to meet his counterpart Wang Yi and issued a warning about China’s increasingly extensive military support for Russia.

“I’m sure President Putin wants China’s help in the Ukraine issue,” said Alexander Neill, a defense analyst in Singapore. “What more China can do without facing a reaction from the US will be the subject of careful consideration during this visit.”

Mr. Putin has just held an inauguration ceremony as president for his fifth term, while Mr. Xi has just returned from a trip to Europe, where he was warmly welcomed in pro-Russian countries Serbia and Hungary, and enjoyed wine and dine in France. China’s leaders left the region without making any major concessions on trade or Ukraine.

Mr. Xi has met Mr. Putin more than 40 times, including online exchanges, more than any other leader. The two often congratulate each other on their birthdays and call each other “old friends” or “best friends”. But more importantly, according to analysts, they appear to see each other as strategic partners in a major geopolitical competition and will likely use the negotiations to portray themselves as leaders of a global system. new global system aimed at reducing US influence.

“The goal of the visit is to demonstrate how close China and Russia are to each other,” commented Yun Sun, director of the China program at the Stimson Center, based in Washington.

“I believe that both Russia and China will focus the story on the failure of the West, especially the US, without naming it directly,” Meia Nouwens, senior expert on national security policy, said. said the China Department at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a consulting organization headquartered in London, England.

According to Nouwens, President Putin’s visit took place immediately after President Xi returned from Europe, signaling that Beijing will not change its stance on bilateral relations with Moscow, despite pressure from the West. .

Zhao Minghao, professor at the Institute of International Studies at Fudan University, Shanghai, assessed that in the context of Russia’s increasing offensive campaign targeting Kharkov province in northeastern Ukraine, President Putin needs to find a way to stabilize relationship with China, especially in trade and energy. His visit is not outside of this purpose.

Russian President Vladimir V. Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping after talks at the Kremlin last year. Image: AFP

“Under pressure from the US and Western countries, Putin must ensure the strengthening of the strategic partnership with China,” Zhao said, adding that the relationship is equally important to Beijing.

According to Alexander Gabuev, Russia and China analyst at the Carnegie Center for Russia and Eurasia, Moscow currently weighs all of its foreign relations based on the conflict in Ukraine and its stance toward the West.

“The war in Ukraine has become a main principle of President Putin’s foreign policy,” Gabuev wrote on social network X. The Kremlin boss “now evaluates all relationships through the lens of three considerations : Can it help on the battlefield in Ukraine, can it help sustain the Russian economy and circumvent sanctions, can it help Moscow confront the West and punish the US and its allies for supporting Ukraine”.

China satisfies all three of President Putin’s considerations, he noted.

Trade transactions between China and Russia will reach a record of 240 billion USD in 2023, up 63% compared to 2021, before the Ukraine conflict, and have reached the target set by the two countries for 2024.

Data from Chinese customs shows that during this period, the value of China’s exports of dual-use electronic equipment, which Russia can use to produce precision-guided weapons systems, increased. mutation.

Trade flows also increased in both directions. Russia last year became China’s largest oil seller. Sanctions from the West mean that Russia now has very few large customers left.

With isolation and the loss of the European market, Russia has turned China and India into the main customers for its oil and gas. However, Russian oil giant Gazprom reported its first loss in decades in recent weeks, increasing motivation for Moscow to push Beijing to sign a gas pipeline construction deal. Siberia 2 has been long delayed.

The Power of Siberia 2 pipeline, once completed, will help Russia export gas from the Yamal Peninsula field in western Siberia, through eastern Mongolia to northern China, stretching more than 2,500 km. It is expected to transport 50 billion cubic meters of gas to China, the world’s largest energy consumer.

But China delayed signing the final agreement. If approved, construction of the pipeline is expected to begin this year, but it will take until the end of the decade for the project to be completed.

Some experts say that just the fact that President Xi and President Putin meet face to face carries a special weight.

“Beijing’s act of welcoming President Putin is itself a form of support for Moscow because China is one of the few powers that has not isolated Russia,” James Char, security scholar at the School of S. Rajaratnam International Studies, Singapore, commentary. “China also needs Russia on its side to disrupt the US-led world order and in its long-term struggle with the US for geopolitical influence.”

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