The relationship between Moscow and Beijing grows. And it’s better for…

Russia and China are tightening the partnership, increasingly asymmetrical towards Beijing. However, Minister Wang Yi relaunches on Chinese activity in favor of world order and to avoid the clash of models

Three hundred days after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the foreign minister from Beijing Wang Yi draws the perimeter of relations with Moscow. The relationship, explains the head of Chinese diplomacy (who clearly speaks according to the dictates of the Party/State), continues and is also getting stronger. But he adds, something similar is also underway with the European Union, because China is working to avoid the “clash of blocks”, i.e. the confrontation between models — democracies against authoritarianisms.

Wang underlines that dialogue with Russia is not solidarity – on what is being done in Ukraine – and follows a path already traced by the leader Xi Jinping. The narrative coming out of Beijing serves to strike Washington, which with the Biden administration has elevated democratic values ​​to a vector of international politics and therefore has exacerbated that confrontation with authoritarianisms – which has in fact been the great theme of global affairs for a while ‘ of time, is of the present and will be of the future.

The line pushed by the Chinese minister serves to give China the thickness of player global that works for the dynamics of the world. But it is clear that this kind of strategy is very much to the advantage of China, which wants to prevent the United States from building a compact block (in terms of ideals, ideas and actions) that can make decisions that are not convenient for Beijing. The involvement in this kind of debate and narration of relations with the EU – which, moreover, are in a phase of revision, with Brussels gradually stiffer on some issues — testifies to the Chinese attempt to fly high.

On the same day as the Ukrainian Volodymyr Zelensky was in Washington by Joe Biden — a trip that took US-Ukraine relations to the next level — Russian Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev was in Beijing. The visit had not been announced, but Medvedev was allowed to fit into the busy Chinese agenda and meet with Xi.

On the theme of the clash between models, Medvedev has repeatedly spoken out against Democracies: for example yesterday, Monday 26 December, he wrote on Twitter that “the Bretton Woods monetary management system will collapse, leading to the bankruptcy of the IMF and the Bank World. Euro and dollar will stop circulating as global reserve currencies. Instead, digital currencies will be actively used,” in a threads that the tycoon who owns the social network, Elon Muskpraised as “epic”, only to recover later by defining certain predictions as “absurd” (perhaps under the weight, even financial, of what he says and thinks).

Medvedev arrived in Beijing as president of United Russia and as the president’s special envoy Vladimir Putin. He carried with him a letter written directly by the head of the Kremlin, according to the Chinese press. In various reports of the trip, the Beijing media underline that Xi “has taken an objective and fair position and actively promoted peace talks” and “expressed the hope that the parties will remain rational and exercise restraint, engage in a comprehensive dialogue and address their common security concerns by political means”.

Nothing new, indeed less than what has already been said regarding the avoidance of the use of nuclear weapons – which is just as obvious. The readout Chinese official points out that Russia undertakes to resolve the situation through peace agreements, the Russian one provided by Medvedev himself on his Telegram channel highlights that the theme of the meeting is trade and industrial cooperation. There is a certain distance: politics on one side, business on the other. However the data, reported by Carnegie’s Russia expert Alexander Gabuev, indicate that despite the distances from Moscow being underlined, Beijing continues to be interested in keeping the Russian-Chinese economic-commercial commitment high — many exchange rumors they have grown up in 2022.

For Gabuev, this trend is set to continue. On the other hand, Russia needs to compensate for lost revenues with Western measures on the world of hydrocarbons – crucial to keep the state alive. Similarly, it could be convenient for China to continue to benefit from Russian discounts linked to the context (and perhaps reproducible in the future for survival needs). A known trend in relations, biased in favor of China. For this reason, the Carnegie expert considers the possibility that China begins to increase investments in Russia as more difficult (the specific contracts give greater guarantees due to less operational heaviness and better flexibility).

Industrial realities such as the Chinese companies that work on electric batteries or Huawei have remained in China with the awareness that, while under the measures against Russia they have forced Western companies to leave the country, the Russian market had to be covered in some way now and in the future. Companies like Huawei could become monopolistic in Russia. In the same way, cooperation of a military nature will also take up much more media space than it will be profound in practice.

“No doubt 2023 will bring changes to Sino-Russian ties amid the more visible impact of Western sanctions and the oil embargo on the Russian economy,” Gabuev explains. “Most likely, these developments will only increase Moscow’s dependence on China and deepen the asymmetry in relations in favor of Beijing.” For the expert, “it is understandable why many want to hope that China will keep Putin on Ukraine or distance itself from Russia thus limiting the flow of money into the Kremlin’s war chest. Both hopes are unsupported by data and are rather in magical thinking territory.”

The relationship between Moscow and Beijing grows. And it’s better for… –