Xi Jinping and Putin: These signs reveal the autocrats’ bromance

Xi Jinping and Putin: These signs reveal the autocrats’ bromance

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Beijing against cooperation with Russia. Xi Jinping gave the American the cold shoulder, and Vladimir Putin was deliberately portrayed as an old friend.

Putin’s first visit in his fifth and probably last term in office takes him to Beijing in the first few days. Xi Jinping’s reception is a production the likes of which have never been seen before. Especially if you consider the frugal efforts that Beijing made for Chancellor Scholz and the American Secretary of State Blinken.

In Beijing there is a court ceremonial that is strictly observed. The difference in appreciation becomes visible as soon as you leave the plane on the tarmac. While the West is fobbed off with a sparse skeleton crew, Putin receives a full welcome station with a shining motorcycle squadron.

The visit was made exciting by the things that one didn’t necessarily expect. FDP defense expert Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann was able to say about Sergei Shoigu, who lost his job as defense minister as a result of the cabinet reshuffle, that he was cut off and could be happy that Putin didn’t have him thrown out of a window. Now the man who was allegedly shot was sitting to the right of Kremlin ruler Putin in one of the most important meetings for Russia.

Xi Jinping’s calculated gestures

Xi Jinping’s production emphasized the personal friendship between the two autocrats. A relationship that Xi Jinping has sought and promoted since the first meeting. And it wasn’t primarily shown through the number of motorcycles or guards, but through emotions and leaks. Little things carry great importance. A few weeks ago, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken tried to stop the leadership in Beijing from closer military cooperation with Russia during a visit to China. Blinken had threatened further sanctions against Chinese companies that supply the Russian defense industry. The reaction was immediate. Before the meeting with Foreign Minister Blinken, Xi Jinping asked an assistant when “he” would be leaving again. You can hardly express your disdain more clearly than in this “leaked” shaky video. Other informal scenes are scattered from Putin’s visit. For example, the curt joint nod of the two chief bodyguards – a scene like something out of an action film.

Consolation from the “junior partner”

In the West, people console themselves about the alliance between the two powers by invoking the word “junior partner.” Indeed, Moscow has lost the dominant role it enjoyed during the Stalin era. However, China’s unprecedented rise has also reversed Beijing’s balance of power vis-à-vis the EU states. Above all, these taunts cannot eliminate the dangerous dynamics of the Moscow-Beijing partnership.

Alliance against the West

With access to Russia’s land mass and raw materials, China has broken the US strategic containment. Both are declared enemies of the West and therefore natural allies. The strain on Europe’s security architecture caused by the war in Ukraine plays into Beijing’s hands. Russia’s efforts to circumvent Western sanctions are a laboratory experiment for China, which is also under sanctions. Russia’s trade relations with the EU and the G7 have effectively been replaced by China. While Chinese exports to the rest of the world have increased by 29 percent since 2021, Chinese exports to Russia have increased by over 121 percent in the same period. Beijing supplies industrial and consumer goods, filling the gap left by the G7 sanctions. Consumer goods are not crucial to continuing the war, but raw materials and industrial goods are. China has now become the most important supplier of machinery.

The meeting made it abundantly clear that this collaboration will become even stronger in the future. Both countries will further develop the Northern Passage in the Arctic, which will shorten shipping routes and shift them from the US-controlled Pacific to the Russian zone of influence. At the same time, Russia and China continue to work on de-dollarization of trade. This should not happen just by conducting its own trade in its own national currencies and by China selling off its dollar reserves at a rapid pace. Together, a reliable alternative to the US currency in international trade should be developed. It was not for nothing that Putin’s financial architect Elwira Nabiullina was part of the visit. The head of the Russian central bank is one of the people who made it possible for Putin to wage war in Ukraine.

Looseness à la Xi Jinping

To Western eyes, the Chinese ceremonial sometimes seems bizarre, such as the groups of children with chevron elements. If you look closely, you’ll notice how Beijing is modernizing the rituals of the Mao era. And the visitor Putin was presented with the most valuable asset in this currency, with emotions. Xi Jinping often appears like a robot ruler. Stiff, inscrutable smiling and graciously waving. During the obligatory walk, the two appeared relaxed, like old friends. An impression that did not appear when looking at the same pictures with Chancellor Scholz. Later, something unheard of: another walk, but now without a tie. Anyone who thought it couldn’t be more relaxed was proven wrong: Beijing’s ruler hugged the visitor from Moscow farewell.

Source: Stern

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