President Xi on a meeting spree . . .
As the Beijing Winter Olympics got underway this weekend, so too did China’s diplomatic efforts. Before the opening ceremony on Friday, Chinese President Xi Jinping met Russian President Vladimir Putin, marking Xi’s first in-person meeting with a foreign leader since late 2019. Over the weekend, Xi met with leaders of nearly 20 countries from Europe, Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East, South America, and the Pacific, as well as the United Nations Secretary-General. The frenetic diplomatic push stands in stark contrast to the diplomatic boycott of the Games imposed by many Western countries, including Canada.
Xi, Putin sign lengthy Joint Statement . . .
In a lengthy Joint Statement following their meeting, Xi and Putin affirmed a “no limits” partnership and declared “there are no ‘forbidden’ areas of cooperation.” Notably, the two countries “oppose further enlargement of NATO,” criticized the formation of security blocs in the Indo-Pacific, and denounced AUKUS, the trilateral security agreement between Australia, Britain, and the U.S. Xi and Putin also defined a shared vision of democracy that diverges from the West’s. Coupled with Xi’s diplomatic foray this weekend, this vision signals a growing Sino-Russian resolve to build a coalition of like-minded nations that presents an alternative to the Western-led liberal international order. In recent days, China also welcomed Argentina into its Belt and Road Initiative and pledged to help turn Poland into a logistics hub for China-European Union industrial and supply chains.
Un-Olympic diplomacy . . .
Last Thursday, before the Xi-Putin meeting, the U.S. warned Chinese firms of the potential consequences of helping Russia evade sanctions if the latter were to invade Ukraine. Although the Xi-Putin joint statement makes no mention of Ukraine or sanctions evasion, it was accompanied by new oil and gas dealsworth an estimated C$149 billion, which could help Russia mitigate financial fallout from Western sanctions. On the other side of this geopolitical divide, ministers from Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) countries Australia, India, Japan, and the U.S. are expected to meet tomorrow in Australia to discuss Indo-Pacific co-ordination, something Xi and Putin view as precisely the sort of “ideologized cold war approach” their Joint Statement condemns.
- Foreign Policy: Argentina and Ecuador choose business over boycotts in Beijing
- The Guardian: Xi and Putin urge NATO to rule out expansion as Ukraine tensions rise
- The Washington Post: What is – and isn’t – in the joint statement from Putin and Xi