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The Russian-Chinese Affair Goes Public

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Floyd Ciruli

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The camaraderie between Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping has been in the news since September 2018 when they met at the Vladivostok so-called Eastern Economic Forum where Putin famously showed Xi how to cook blintzes while their tanks practiced maneuvers (see Autocrats Cook While Tanks Rumble, 9-18-18).

President Xi brought President Putin two pandas in a show of good will at the June 2019 economic forum in St. Petersburg as the two signed trade agreements, at least partially to avoid trade sanctions from the West. Xi called Putin his best friend as they celebrated Putin’s birthday (see The Two Pandas Summit: Autocrats Gather; Economies and Military Ties Strengthened, 6-11-19).

The pandemic interrupted bonhomie, but in a show of friendship and respect, Putin managed to slip into Beijing for some Olympic viewing (and napping) at a moment when he needed to show the U.S. and Western Europe he has a powerful friend in Asia (see Americans Dislike Putin, Support Ukraine, But Don’t Want War, 2-10-22). They have long made clear their hostility to Western democracies and the U.S.’s geopolitical and trade positions, which they label as unilateralism and hegemony.