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STEVE PAVLICK: The Budding Bromance Between Putin And Xi

Chinese President Xi Jinping recently visited Russian President Vladimir Putin to cement an expanding strategic partnership. Remember, it was Putin who visited Xi Jinping last year, days before he invaded Ukraine. It is worth noting that Xi Jinping has met with Putin more than any other world leader. Xi recently unveiled his 12-point peace plan to end the conflict in Ukraine in February. Putin supports Xi’s plan because it would cement Russia’s territorial gains and largely avoid other controversial issues. Xi will hold a virtual meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The fact that President Xi does not plan to travel to Ukraine confirms the fact that he is not a neutral mediator. Moreover, it is not in China’s interest to seek an early end to the conflict. In any event, Xi is sincere in his pursuit of peace as he wants to enhance his international image, which has been tarnished by covering up the outbreak of the new coronavirus pandemic and human rights violations in Xinjiang. We want to reinforce the perception that we are peacemakers, even if we don’t have them. Xi also sees an opportunity to draw a diplomatic contrast to seeking peace versus US efforts to arm Ukraine to prolong the conflict. The Economist magazine reported that many countries were vague about war and wondered how it would end. I have not.

self-interest

For Putin, the benefits of Xi’s visit are clear. A photo shoot of Putin with the leader of the world’s second largest economy is a powerful propaganda tool. It discourages other countries from joining pro-Ukrainian, Western-backed alliances in imposing sanctions. (Related: STEVE PAVLICK: In many ways, Washington is getting back to normal — total traffic jams)

China probably wants to avoid providing Russia with direct military aid that could lead to Western sanctions. But given China’s interest in prolonging the war, it may be forced to provide more military aid to Russia in the future. , would appear to do so indirectly through a third country.

Russia’s reliance on China as an economic lifeline to withstand Western sanctions has only grown since the conflict began. China’s economic aid will allow Putin to continue funding the war. Putin is betting that the Western alliance will collapse as political pressure mounts to prevent the conflict from extending into his second year.

Russia reported that China-Russia trade will hit a record high in 2022, increasing by 30%. Both China and Russia want to downplay the US dollar, the world’s reserve currency and perhaps the source of US soft power diplomacy. Because it increases the impact of financial sanctions.Before the war, China and Russia aimed to conduct trade in both the Russian ruble and the Chinese renminbi. I’m here.

For Xi, the benefits of visiting Putin are also clear. He sees an opportunity for China to continue receiving energy supplies at deep discounts, using Russia’s fragile situation. Xi, in particular, did not announce plans to significantly increase energy purchases from Russia. Because we don’t want China to become overly dependent on Russia for energy. China also wants to use the US withdrawal in the Middle East to expand its sphere of influence in the Middle East. China is also increasing access to Russian military technology as President Xi Jinping seeks to strengthen his ability to invade Taiwan.

Xi may also think it is in his political interest to keep Putin in power. A prolonged conflict in Ukraine could redirect Western attention and military resources, facilitating Xi Jinping’s invasion of Taiwan.If the conflict in Ukraine enters its second year and voters wary of war, the Western allies could lose the political will to defend Taiwan. shared

diplomatic approach

After the two leaders met on the sidelines of the G20 last November, there were hopes that Xi and Biden would establish a voice to prevent ties from souring. But earlier this year, China flew a reconnaissance balloon over the U.S. mainland, prompting the cancellation of planned talks between diplomats from the two countries. Furthermore, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen’s upcoming visit to California to meet House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California) will make it difficult for the US and China to reengage diplomatically.

Xi may have concluded that there is no prospect of easing tensions with the United States, and is thus veering toward a more confrontational tone, including more aggressive diplomatic outreach.

China also triumphed when Taiwan’s ally Honduras switched diplomatic ties to Beijing. On March 23, The Economist wrote that China’s “transactional worldview has more support outside the West than you might think.” Apparently Xi wants to explore that idea.

Steve Pavlick is a partner and head of policy at Renaissance Macro and a former Treasury official.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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