fredag 4. februar 2022

Xi-Putin summit: Russia inches closer to China as ‘new cold war’ looms

When the leaders of China and Russia meet in Beijing this Friday shortly before the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics, observers of the bilateral relationship will be looking for insights into how this 21st century quasi-alliance is reshaping the postwar world order. It was 50 years ago this month, on 21 February 1972, that the historic handshake between Richard Nixon and Mao Zedong changed the geometry of the cold war. Historians called the visit “the week that changed the world”. It later influenced Washington’s subsequent movement towards détente with Moscow.

Yet, half a century on, with talk of another cold war – this time between the US and China – on the rise, Moscow and Beijing are, instead, inching closer. Amid the unfolding crisis in Ukraine, Beijing last week publicly seconded Moscow’s “security concerns” regarding Nato. On Thursday, it released a statement saying its and Russia’s foreign ministers had coordinated their positions on regional issues of common concern, including Ukraine, Afghanistan and the Korean peninsular.

“This will be their 38th [meeting] since 2013, [and] is uniquely significant because of the foreign policy challenges each leader is facing at the moment,” David Shullman, senior director of the Global China Hub at the Atlantic Council, said of Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping.