Eastern Giants Unite

At the geopolitical level, the Sino-Russo partnership illustrates the consolidation of global powers into distinct geopolitical blocs.

In the aftermath of the Ukraine crisis, the Russia-China alliance has taken on a new dimension, transforming into a formidable force in the global geopolitical landscape. The “no limit” cooperation, a term that has become synonymous with their partnership, is experiencing an unprecedented surge. It is underscored by President Putin’s recent visit to Beijing, his first overseas trip since his re-election. As the West, spearheaded by the U.S., intensifies its pressure, these two states find a common ground in their quest to counterbalance this dominance.

During his visit, Putin traveled to Harbin, a city near the Russian border that has long been a key hub for cross-border trade and cultural exchange. At the Russia-China trade fair’s opening ceremony, Putin lauded the economic ties between the two nations and pledged to strengthen them. He affirmed Russia’s readiness and ability to provide China’s enterprises, cities, and towns with affordable, environmentally friendly energy on a continuous basis. Alongside, also outlined areas where the two states are strengthening their ties, including food supply, Chinese automobile manufacturing in Russia, and nuclear and energy cooperation.

Xi highlighted that bilateral trade had increased by 170 percent over the past decade and had the potential for further growth. He ensured China’s willingness to jointly achieve the development and rejuvenation of their people, and work together to uphold fairness and justice in the world. The Ukraine crisis has served as a catalyst, accelerating Russia’s growing economic dependence on China. Trade between the two nations reached a record $240 billion in 2023, up more than 64% since 2021. This economic interdependence is further highlighted by China’s role in softening the impact of sanctions imposed on Russia over the Ukraine war.

Xi and Putin also signed a joint statement on enhancing their comprehensive strategic partnership. Xi expressed hope for a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Ukraine and emphasized that Russia-China cooperation did not target any third party. He described it as a mutually respectful and beneficial partnership and a stabilizing force in the world against rising hegemony, implicitly referring to the United States. Putin’s endorsement of China’s peace efforts for Ukraine is also notable. This is probably part of his attempt to talk China out of attending the mid-June Swiss conference on the peace formula proposed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Putin emphasized that the G20 and the UN should be depoliticized and advocated for China and Russia to work together to enhance security in the Asia-Pacific region. Referring to the AUKUS pact, which Beijing views as an alliance aimed at containing China, Putin condemned what he termed “closed alliances in the region.” It is interesting to note that Russia is providing maximum diplomatic support to China on Indo-Pacific issues and expanding the scope of their joint military maneuvers. This strategic alignment, driven by profound underlying reasons, is poised to continue and evolve further.

Earlier in March their enhanced strategic cooperation pledged “decisive mutual support on the issues of protecting one another’s core interests” and included Russia’s commitment to oppose Taiwan’s independence “in any form.” Additionally, it affirmed Russia’s “firm support” for China’s efforts to defend its state sovereignty and territorial integrity. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, consistently backed China on Indo-Pacific regional issues, criticizing the Quad alliance (Australia, India, Japan, and the U.S.) to “create a long-term source of tension” in the region to contain China.

The collaboration between Russia and China also extends to military activities. Their joint military maneuvers have been expanding, including naval exercises and air patrols in East Asian waters, as well as naval exercises in the Arabian Sea and off the coast of South Africa. In the summer of 2023, 11 ships from the Russian and Chinese navies conducted joint maneuvers near the coast of Alaska, in the far northwestern United States, showcasing their growing military cooperation.

At the geopolitical level, the Sino-Russo partnership illustrates the consolidation of global powers into distinct geopolitical blocs. They have reciprocally supported each other’s primary ambitions: President Putin has endorsed President Xi’s stance on Taiwan, while Xi has made indirect statements backing Russia’s actions in Ukraine, commending Russia’s efforts to “ensure security” and condemning “external interference in Russia’s internal affairs.” Both states have jointly criticized the United States for allegedly undermining strategic stability. They have accused the U.S. of deploying a “global missile defense” system. Furthermore, they have charged the U.S. with building weapons for “potential decapitation strikes,” Beijing and Moscow have also denounced Washington’s purported plans to deploy short- and intermediate-range missiles in Europe and the Indo-Pacific.

This Russia-China closeness is not merely a temporary alignment of interests, but a strategic partnership that has been forged in the crucible of geopolitical pressures. It is a testament to the shifting global power dynamics and the emergence of a multipolar world order. The West’s attempts to isolate these states have inadvertently driven them closer, creating a formidable axis that challenges the existing hegemony.

The economic, diplomatic and strategic cooperation among them is a clear signal to the world that they are prepared to defend their interests and assert their influence on the global stage. Their partnership is a stark reminder that in the complex game of international politics, alliances can shift, and new power blocs can emerge, often in response to external pressures. As their alliance continues to strengthen and evolve, it will undoubtedly reshape the geopolitical landscape. The world must adapt to this new reality and find ways to engage with these major powers constructively. The future of global stability may well depend on how effectively the international community can navigate this new era of multipolarity.

Dr. Gul.i.Ayesha Bhatti
The writer is a current affairs analyst. She can be reached at guleayeshabhatti@gmail.com

The writer is a current affairs analyst. She can be reached at guleayesha
bhatti@
gmail.com

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