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May 16, 2024, 7:16am EDT
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Putin and Xi meet in Beijing as countries deepen ties

Insights from Nikkei Asia, The New York Times, The Jamestown Foundation, and The Economist

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Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a meeting in Beijing, China May 16, 2024. Sputnik/Sergei Guneev
Sputnik/Sergei Guneev
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The News

Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Beijing on Thursday, as Moscow and Beijing deepen financial and trade ties between the two countries.

The cooperation between Russia and China “is one of the main stabilizing factors in the international arena,” Putin said. “Together we uphold the principles of justice and a democratic world order reflecting multi-polar realities and an order in the world based on international law.”


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Russia’s war in Ukraine spurred trade

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Source:  
Nikkei Asia

Trade between Russia and China increased after Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, as Russia’s elites and financial institutions were slapped with widespread sanctions by the US and its Western allies. Russia has become a prime destination for Chinese exports, Nikkei noted: As Chinese consumers switch to electric cars, Russia has become the largest importer of Chinese-manufactured gasoline-powered vehicles. Trade between the nations has grown “despite some actions that are aimed at curbing our development,” Putin said Thursday. The trade is largely being conducted in roubles and yuan, circumventing sanctions placed on the US dollar.

Russia’s turn towards China is historic

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Sources:  
The New York Times, The Jamestown Foundation

Russian society has radically changed under Putin, Alexander Gabuev, director of the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center, wrote in The New York Times. “Never since the fall of the Soviet Union has Russia been so distant from Europe, and never in its entire history has it been so entwined with China.” The Kremlin’s reliance on Beijing has only grown in recent years, a “tectonic” shift in the way Moscow conducts its international relations. The changing relations have also sparked a demand for Chinese speakers in Russia, The Jamestown Foundation noted. “By promoting Chinese-language expertise, the Kremlin is clearly playing the role of a mouthpiece for Beijing,” Paul Goble, a specialist on ethnicity and religion in Eurasia, wrote.

Putin and Xi’s ties more than convenience

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Source:  
The Economist

Xi will continue to support the Kremlin because of how useful Putin’s regime is in supporting Beijing’s “struggle with the West,” The Economist noted. China and Russia host joint military exercises, but are not yet readying to fight alongside one another — instead, “Mr Xi wants to show America that he is prepared to fight” and could turn to Russia for “indirect support,” the outlet wrote. In the case of a China-US war, Russian energy supplies would keep China functioning. But their ties do seem to stretch beyond convenience, too: Xi and Putin “appear genuinely chummy. They give each other birthday cakes, down vodka together and call one another ‘dear friend’.”

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