Was this toast a show… Chinese and Russian leaders hit each other in the back of the head after the summit

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Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping toast at a welcome dinner at the Kremlin in Moscow on March 21./Reuters Yonhap News

Chinese President Xi Jinping paid a state visit to Russia for three days and two nights between March 20 and 22. The first thing I ran to Russia as soon as I started my third term in office means that China-Russia relations are axis important aspect of Chinese foreign policy in Xi Jinping’s third term.

For Russia, which was so isolated that the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for President Vladimir Putin, President Xi’s visit to Russia was ‘rain in a drought’. He is said to have received a grand reception at the Kremlin Palace. In the joint statement issued after the summit, both countries raised their voices, saying, “We oppose any form of hegemony, unilateralism, and power politics.” It was an expression of our will to stand together against our common enemy, the United States.

However, looking at the situation after President Xi’s visit to Russia, the summit between the two countries does not seem to be as smooth as it appears on the surface. The two countries said in a joint statement that “no nuclear weapons should be used abroad,” but President Putin suddenly declared that he would use tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus on March 25, three days after Xi returned home. . President Xi also did not agree to the ‘Siberian Power 2’ gas pipeline construction project that Russia was looking forward to. On the surface, they seemed to be in sync, but they each went their separate ways.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, who visited Russia, poses for a commemorative photo after signing a joint statement after meeting with Russian President Putin at the Kremlin in Moscow./Reuters News 1

◇ Burst China “Damage President Xi’s face”

China is in a heated mood over the use of tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus. It was said to be a disgrace on President Xi’s face. One of the justifications for President Xi’s visit to Russia this time was to mediate the war in Ukraine. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also introduced an independent arbitration scheme in late February.

The Chinese-Russian joint statement also mentioned this arbitration plan and said, “We must prevent the crisis from escalating further and out of control.” In addition, referring to the Joint Declaration on the Prevention of Nuclear War by the leaders of the five nuclear-weapon states issued in January last year, “All nuclear-weapon states must refrain from using nuclear weapons abroad and must remove nuclear weapons and used back. ” At a time when Putin, cornered on the Ukraine front, was openly threatening nuclear weapons, China could be credited with contributing to the easing of tensions.

Part of the Sino-Russian Joint Declaration on Nuclear Weapons. The blue part contains the content “All nuclear powers must not use nuclear weapons outside the country and must withdraw nuclear weapons used.” /Website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China

However, just four days after signing this joint statement, President Putin came up with a bill that went directly against it. The Chinese-Russian joint statement signed with President Xi on March 21 was completely ignored.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Maoning said in a briefing on March 27, “In January last year, the leaders of the five nuclear-weapon states emphasized that war between nuclear-weapon states should be avoided, stating that there can be no nuclear war. won by anyone and it shouldn’t happen.” “Countries should focus their diplomatic efforts to resolve the Ukraine crisis peacefully and work together to ease tensions,” he said. It is a blunt statement of the opposite. A public account operator on Chinese social media WeChat said, “A country (Russia) that doesn’t even take what it says so seriously will not be embarrassed, but China is in a difficult situation.”

◇ The agreement to build additional gas pipelines also collapsed

In fact, President Xi Jinping also praised Russia, which is in a difficult situation, on the back during this visit, but there was little practical support. Before this visit to Russia, the United States issued a strong warning against the possibility that China would provide Russia with lethal weapons. It appears that Xi did not commit to arms support after all.

Arms support for Russia crosses the ‘red line’ drawn by the US, and China will face similar levels of economic sanctions as Russia. Losing the markets of the United States, the European Union and Japan, which account for 36% of China’s exports, would be a huge economic blow.

Power of Siberia natural gas pipeline near Atamanskaya, Russia. The first gas pipeline connecting China and Russia opened in 2019. / Chosun Ilbo DB

What Russia had high hopes for was the ‘Power of Siberia 2’ gas pipeline construction project. The plan is to build a 2,600 km gas pipeline connecting Russia, Mongolia and China to export 50 billion cubic meters of natural gas to China every year.

Russia, whose European market, which accounts for 80% of its total natural gas exports, has been blocked by Western sanctions, saw China as an alternative.

◇ China-Russia relations have changed hands

President Putin did not hide his expectations either. In a press conference immediately after the summit on March 21, he confidently said, “We have agreed to build the Siberian Power-2 natural gas pipeline, and negotiations on various variables related to the project have been completed .”

However, the joint statement that came out shortly afterwards said that “investigation and consultation will continue”. There was no final agreement on how to share the cost of building the gas pipeline and what the price of the supply would be. It was a Chinese-specific trick to ask Russia, which is in a frustrated position, to lower the price more.

President Putin shakes hands with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko at the Novo Ogariovo President’s office outside Moscow in February. President Putin announced on March 25 that he would deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus by July. / Yonhap News Reuters

On the surface, it appears that this summit has further strengthened China-Russia closeness, but in reality, it is evaluated to be a place to confirm Russia’s position, which has already become a ‘B’ position against China. US Secretary of State Tony Blincoln also said that Russia has become a “junior partner” in evaluating China-Russia relations as a “marriage of convenience” at the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on March 22.

I believe that President Putin ignored the joint statement between the two countries and pulled Belarus’s tactical nuclear deployment card out of anger and a sense of shame about Russia’s situation.

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