Daily Review: Russia-China Ties Are Changing as They Deepen

Daily Review: Russia-China Ties Are Changing as They Deepen
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands after speaking to the media during a signing ceremony following their talks at The Grand Kremlin Palace, in Moscow, Russia, March 21, 2023 (Sputnik photo by Mikhail Tereshchenko via AP Images).

Russian President Vladimir Putin wrapped up his two-day visit to China today. The trip included a state visit and talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, as well as a stop in the capital of China’s northeastern province of Heilongjiang, which shares an extensive border with Russia. (AP)

Our Take

In the West, Putin’s visit has been largely seen as the latest sign of the two countries’ deepening strategic partnership, especially since Russia invaded Ukraine. Beijing has provided cover for Moscow to avoid what could have been crippling Western sanctions, mostly by increasing trade and selling Russia dual-use components that can be used for military production. Beijing has also shrugged off Western requests to apply pressure on Moscow to end the war.

But this week’s visit was also revealing of major shifts in the nature of the partnership. Observers of the Russia-China relationship in the 2010s often cited two factors in particular that many argued would prevent Moscow from deepening ties beyond pragmatic and opportunistic cooperation. The first was the view that Russia would be unwilling to play the role of junior partner in the relationship. Although less significant, the second was unease in Moscow about the number of Chinese migrant workers in Russia’s Far East, amid fears of potential Chinese encroachment.

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