China’s Communist Party leader Xi Jinping made clear his intentions for China to dominate as Russia’s main geopolitical partner in remarks in Moscow late Wednesday, calling their ties “as firm as a rock” and claiming China and Russia will jointly “guarantee peace” for the world.
Xi is in Moscow to meet with President Vladimir Putin for a celebration of the 70th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries. Xi will also address the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, a platform for Russia and others to attract global investors.
Both China and Russia sorely need investors to spruce up their wilting economies. China, in particular, is facing growing financial concerns as a product of its ongoing trade dispute with the United States. Both are facing pessimistic economic outlooks as evaluated by global financial observers like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF).
“The Russian-Chinese relations, which are entering a new era, serve as a reliable guarantee of peace and stability on the globe,” Xi said during a celebration at the Bolshoi Theatre in the Russian capital on Wednesday, according to Russian news agency TASS. “Our relations serve as an example for creating a new type of international relations and … promoting a multipolar world and democratization of international affairs in order to create a more prosperous, stable and fair world.”
“No matter how Russian-Chinese relations changed throughout those 70 years, the friendship between the two nations remained as firm as a rock,” he continued. “May the 70th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations pave the way for unveiling the beautiful Russian-Chinese universal partnership of the future and strategic cooperation of the new era!”
Putin similarly heralded the role that Russia and China play in supporting some of the world’s most repressive dictatorships and guaranteed a commitment to curtailing U.S. democratic influence worldwide.
“Russia and China jointly support multi-polarization of the world, safeguard international law as well as the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, and promote the formation of a new international order based on the principles of equality, mutual benefit and win-win cooperation,” Putin reported said, according to the Chinese Xinhua news agency.
Putin reportedly declared that Russia and China had reached the “highest level in history” in their diplomatic relationship.
Prior to the banquet, Putin and Xi visited the Moscow Zoo and spent time with Ding Ding and Ru Yi, two Chinese giant pandas. China often uses pandas in its diplomacy as a cute distraction from the many atrocities currently underway at the hands of the Communist Party. These two pandas are scheduled to live in Russia for 15 years as part of a scientific research project.
“This is a gesture of particular respect and trust in Russia. When we talk about pandas, we always end up with a smile on our faces. We accept this gift with great respect and gratitude,” Putin said during the zoo visit.
Xi said of the visit that he was happy to spend time with “best friend” Putin. The People’s Daily, the official publication of the Chinese Communist Party, published a special animated feature to emphasize the visit to the pandas as a key part of Xi’s trip.
“China-Russia relations will withstand the test of changes in the international situation,” one of the animated pandas says while flying to Moscow.
China’s state-run propaganda outlet Global Times published a column Wednesday preemptively firing back at expected critics suggesting that Russia cannot improve ties to the United States and to China simultaneously.
“Such perspectives on China-Russia relations are somewhat biased. The reality is that internal motivations for improving China-Russia relations are increasingly strong, and already far exceed any influences from the external situation,” the Times claimed. “This relationship also strengthens their respective status on the international stage and provides basic support for the diplomacy of both countries. These are not short-term diplomatic conditions, but have already been normalized for the two countries.”
“China and Russia have a similar strategic understanding of the world, share many common interests and are complementary to each other,” the piece asserted.
American intelligence officials warned this year that China and Russia are strengthening their relationship in the face of the return of a strong American geopolitical presence under President Donald Trump.
“China and Russia are more aligned than at any point since the mid-1950s, and the relationship is likely to strengthen in the coming year as some of their interests, and threat perceptions converge, particularly regarding perceived US unilateralism and interventionism and Western promotion of democratic values and human rights,” the intelligence community, in their annual Worldwide Threat Assessment released in January, noted.
In addition to geopolitical ties, Xi and Putin will reported sign several major economic agreements. According to the People’s Daily, China and Russia have already expanded projects in “energy, aerospace and interconnectivity,” and will soon expand ties in “agriculture, finance, science and technology.”