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Xi-Putin Olympic meeting stresses no limits in China-Russia cooperation

Source: CGTN | 2022-02-07

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China, February 4, 2022. [Photo/Xinhua]

By Danil Bochkov 

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Beijing for the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games where he was also greeted by Chinese President Xi Jinping as a special guest. The first offline bilateral meeting after the onset of the pandemics coincided with several signs, which Xi called fortunate, in China's culture, including the start of spring in the Chinese lunar calendar. The meeting also seems to have been the beginning of a new chapter of the continuously growing cooperation between Moscow and Beijing.

The talks covered nearly all aspects of the China-Russia multifaceted coordination that embraces geopolitics, economics, military, energy, ideology, as well as cross-cultural and humanitarian exchanges. The sprawling joint statement published following the talks encompasses many fulcrums of bilateral cooperation meant to serve as buttresses of China-Russia relations.

One other important takeaway of the summit is a demonstration of a very convivial rapport between both leaders. Prior to the meeting, Putin was interviewed by China Media Group, and he stressed that they are "good friends who hold largely the same views on addressing the world's problems."

The highlight of the talks is represented by the two agreements advancing energy cooperation from last year's breakthrough after the launch of construction in China of four new nuclear reactors developed by Russia. 2021 also saw a record high increase in gas supplies to China rising 50.5 percent year on year. Now President Xi and Putin witnessed the signing of the two-decade-long agreements for gas and oil supplies.

Russian state-own energy giant Rosneft signed a 10-year deal with China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) for supplies of 100 million tons of crude oil while another energy behemoth, Gazprom, sealed a 25-year deal to deliver 10 billion cubic meters annually totaling 48 billion cubic meters with the supplies via the Power of Siberia gas pipeline launched in 2019. The long-term orientation of both contracts signifies that China-Russia energy cooperation is not affected by geopolitical turbulence.

Russian President Vladimir Putin gives the thumbs-up sign during the opening ceremony of the 24th Olympic Winter Games at the National Stadium in Beijing, China, February 4, 2022. [Photo/Xinhua]

Moscow and Beijing have also endorsed their interpretation of democratic values stressing that they are variable based on a country's history and cultural background. By doing so, they called into question "'certain states' attempts to impose their own 'democratic standards' on other countries," obviously hinting at some Western nations, including the United States.

In terms of global governance – the two leaders made important remarks about the supremacy of the United Nations and clarified that they would promote multilateral cooperation via such platforms as BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, G20, APEC, ASEAN, the "Russia-India-China" format and the East Asia Summit.

Economically, President Xi and Putin hailed a record-high trade turnover, which hit $140 billion, closer to their benchmark goal of $200 billion. Earlier Putin stated in his article for Xinhua News Agency that somewhat of 65 projects worth $120 billion are handled by the Intergovernmental Commission on Investment Cooperation in investment, manufacturing, and agro-industrial areas. Beijing and Moscow eye intensified connection of their development plans – the Eurasian Economic Union and the Belt and Road Initiative.

On the world economy level, Beijing and Moscow vow to promote the rules-based order driven by the World Trade Organization while opposing any forms of "unilateral sanctions, and extraterritorial application of jurisdiction, as well as the abuse of export control policies." China and Russia agreed to boost their technological cooperation in space research and artificial intelligence. They signed the agreement on ensuring interoperability of the Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS) and BeiDou Navigation Satellite System and expressed readiness to strengthen dialogue on artificial intelligence.

Beijing and Moscow draw great attention to the security issues and global concerns, pledging "their strong mutual support for the protection of their core interests, state sovereignty and territorial integrity."

With the blame aimed at Washington, they also jointly criticized any alliance-building activities to curb the development of other nations and labeled the AUKUS partnership between Australia, the U.S. and the UK as a counterproductive initiative that increases the danger of an arms race and poses threats to nuclear proliferation.

Russia reiterated its position on the Taiwan region as indispensably China's territory, while Beijing extended its support to Moscow over its security demands to the U.S. and Europe. Both have also slammed the U.S. for the breakup of several arms control treaties and called on Washington to complete the process of eliminating chemical weapons.

This time rendezvous of the two leaders was planned to become a manifestation of the China-Russia friendship that, as the joint statement reads, has "no limits, [and] no forbidden areas of cooperation." Beijing and Moscow have once again highlighted their proximity on a whole multitude of international issues while simultaneously pledging to stand "back-to-back" while facing global headwinds.

The author is an expert with the Russian International Affairs Council. He graduated cum laude with a master's degree in economics from MGIMO-University under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia and a master's degree in world economy from the University of International Business and Economics in China.