Not long after the commencement of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, I wrote that for China, binding itself tightly to Moscow would do harm to Beijing’s long-term interests.
That is because, I wrote, an alliance between a superpower like China and a far less dynamic country like Russia, whose economy is a small fraction of the former’s size, is not much of an alliance. This would especially hold true if Beijing’s support for Russian President Vladimir Putin deepened European wariness of China and caused Europe and the United States to grow even closer, both of which now seem almost certain.
Some object that China has been careful to avoid an outright alliance with Russia, and that is true. However, the language coming out of Beijing during the last meeting between Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, which awkwardly came just weeks before the Russian incursion into Ukraine, was remarkable for the degree of affection and mutual support those official declarations pledged between the two countries. China said that its friendship with Russia would have no limits or taboo areas.