Russia, China Reaffirm ‘No Limit’ Partnership During Putin’s Visit to Beijing

The visit took place amid heightening concerns among Washington and Brussels over China’s role in aiding Russia to rebuild its defense industrial base.

Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Chinese communist leader Xi Jinping on May 16, reaffirming their “no limit” partnership amid increasing pressure from the United States and the European Union (EU).

Mr. Putin arrived in Beijing on the morning of May 16, beginning a two-day state visit at the invitation of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader.

It’s Mr. Putin’s first overseas trip since he commenced a new six-year term as president earlier this month. The move extended Mr. Putin’s 24 years of rule and put him on track to become one of Russia’s longest-serving leaders.

At the beginning of their meetings, Mr. Putin described Moscow’s cooperation with Beijing in global affairs as one of the “main stabilizing factors on the international stage.”

Russia and China are working together to create what Mr. Putin described as a more just and “democratic world order that reflects multipolar realities,” according to a statement issued by the Kremlin.

Xi, in return, pledged to continue developing the relationship with Russia, which the CCP leader described as a “good neighbor, good friend, good partner,” according to a summary of the meeting released by China’s foreign ministry.

In a display of their closeness amid U.S.-led pressure, the two autocratic leaders issued a joint statement deepening their “comprehensive strategic partnership” for “a new era” after an extended meeting between the two sides earlier on May 16, China’s state media Xinhua reported.

Their latest meeting in Beijing occurred amid heightening concerns among Washington and Brussels about the CCP’s role in helping Russia rebuild its defense industrial base.

When U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited China in April, he told reporters that the Biden administration is prepared to take appropriate measures if the CCP persists in supporting Russia’s war efforts, such as sending machine tools, microelectronics, and other equipment that have “a material effect against Ukraine.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen expressed similar concerns during a talk with the CCP leader and French President Emmanuel Macron earlier this month. Describing the war in Ukraine as an existential threat to Europe, Ms. von der Leyen urged Beijing to curtail the delivery of materials that have civilian and military uses to Moscow.

At a briefing later on May 16, the U.S. State Department warned that the CCP must decide between continuing to support Russia or maintaining a relationship with the West.

China “can’t have its cake and eat it, too,” State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said in response to a question from NTD, a sister media outlet of The Epoch Times.

Beijing can’t “have it both ways—wants to have good, further, stronger, deepened relationships with Europe and other countries while simultaneously continuing to fuel the biggest threat to European security in a long time,” Mr. Patel said, referring to the CCP’s efforts to rebuild Russia’s defense industry.

Mr. Patel reiterated that Washington would closely monitor Beijing’s move on that front, adding that the United States would “take appropriate actions independently through other multilateral fora.”Against this backdrop, Mr. Putin will likely use the meetings with Xi and senior CCP officials to ensure continued support from the Chinese side, said Cheng Chin-mo, an expert in Russia and international relationships at Taiwan’s Tamkang University.

China has emerged as a key lifeline for Russia’s wartime economy. Bilateral trade between the two neighbors hit a new record of $240.1 billion in 2023, up by 25 percent from a year earlier, according to China’s customs data released in January.

“Putin will continue to be dependent on the CCP,” Mr. Cheng told The Epoch Times ahead of the May 16 meeting. “He worries that China, facing a declining economy, will prioritize its relationship with Europe over support to Russia.”

Nonetheless, “the CCP won’t stop its assistance to Russia,” Mr. Cheng said, noting that Xi has defended China’s robust economic ties with Russia as part of normal trade.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Chinese communist leader Xi Jinping in Beijing on May 16, 2024. (Mikhail Metzel/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Chinese communist leader Xi Jinping in Beijing on May 16, 2024. (Mikhail Metzel/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Since Xi took office in 2012, the CCP leader and Mr. Putin have met more than 40 times. Xi chose Moscow as his first destination abroad since the start of his record-breaking third term in office in March 2023.

As the two regimes strengthened their ties, Russian authorities raided the homes of adherents of the Falun Gong spiritual practice on May 3.

Outside observers say the China–Russia relationship is one-sided, benefiting the CCP.

“China appears to be the biggest beneficiary of this war in Europe,” Chung Chih-tung, an expert in European security at Taiwan’s state-funded Institute for National Defense and Security Research, told The Epoch Times on May 14.

“China took this opportunity and bought Russia’s oil, natural gas, and related raw materials at low prices, then manufactured and exported them.

“On the other hand, as Russia faces sanctions imposed by the United States and European Union, China took advantage of its market by exporting a large number of China-made products to Russia.”

Citing passenger vehicles as an example, Mr. Chung said that “after the supply from the U.S. and EU manufacturers was cut off, Chinese vehicles became Russia’s only option.”

Russia has become the top importer of Chinese cars, with more than 840,000 Chinese vehicles exported to Russia in the first 11 months of 2023, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

“It’s clear that China’s unfair trade practice is not only limited to the U.S. and EU markets. It’s no different with Russia,“ Mr. Chung said. ”Yet Russia remains silent.”

Jackson Richman and Luo Ya contributed to this report.


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