December 8, 2023

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China provides support behind “strategic partner” Russia after Wagner’s rebellion against Putin

China provides support behind “strategic partner” Russia after Wagner’s rebellion against Putin

China expressed its support for Russia after a A short-lived rebellion Posing the greatest challenge to the 23-year rule of Vladimir Putin, he is a close partner of Chinese leader Xi Jinping in his quest for a new world order and strategic alignment against the United States.

A day after Wagner’s mercenary fighters turned back from their march towards Moscow, ending a short and chaotic uprising by warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin, Beijing issued its first comment on what Putin called an “armed revolt”.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said briefly: “This is Russia’s internal affair.” statement Posted online late Sunday night.

“As Russia’s friendly neighbor and comprehensive strategic partner of coordination for the new era, China supports Russia in maintaining national stability and achieving development and prosperity,” she said.

Beijing’s carefully worded public comment came after the brief insurgency ended, with Prigozhin agreeing on Saturday to withdraw his fighters in a deal with the Kremlin that reportedly saw exile in Belarus.

It also came after Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko flew to Beijing to meet with Chinese officials on Sunday, with the two sides reaffirming their close partnership and political trust.

Chinese Foreign Minister Chen Gang and Rudenko exchanged views on “China-Russian relations and international and regional issues of common concern,” China’s foreign ministry said in a one-line statement posted on its website. side while smiling.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said Rudenko also held “scheduled consultations” with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaozhou.

“The Chinese side expressed support for the efforts of the leadership of the Russian Federation to stabilize the situation in the country in connection with the events of June 24, and reaffirmed its interest in strengthening Russia’s unity and increasing its prosperity,” the Russian ministry said. he said in a statement.

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According to the Chinese reading, Ma told Rudenko that under the leadership of Xi and Putin, the political mutual trust and cooperation between China and Russia has continuously grown.

“In light of the complex and grim international situation, it is necessary to follow the important consensus reached by the two leaders, communicate in a timely manner, ensure stable and long-term relations between the two countries, and protect the common interests of both sides,” he said.

Xi, the most authoritarian and powerful Chinese leader in decades, has developed a close personal relationship with Putin over their shared ambition to challenge the US-led world order. The two authoritarian leaders declared their friendship “without borders” in February 2022, shortly before Putin launched his war on Ukraine.

Despite its claims of neutrality, China refused to condemn the invasion and instead provided Russia with much-needed diplomatic and economic support, a stance that worried Western countries, especially in Europe.

As the devastating war dragged on, Beijing sought to portray itself as a peace broker in an effort to repair relations with Europe – but it also continued to deepen relations with Moscow.

In March, Xi and Putin made a sweeping affirmation of their alignment across a range of issues — and a shared mistrust of the United States — during the Chinese leader’s first visit to Russia since the invasion.

“At the moment, there are changes — the likes of which we haven’t seen in 100 years — and we are the ones leading these changes together,” Xi told Putin as they were seen off at the Kremlin’s door.

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Three months later, the combined driving force of Xi’s vision has seen his grip on power severely challenged by an extraordinary display of defiance, shattering the veneer of total control the Russian leader has struggled to maintain.

Wagner’s rebellion “contradicts the narrative of Putin as a strong leader who has the full support of his people, who is here for the long haul as China’s global partner of choice,” said Wen-Te-sung, professor of political science at the Australian National University’s Taiwan Studies programme.

“If Putin’s rule is unstable, supporting him is bad business,” he said.

Even the most hawkish and nationalist Chinese scholars and commentators have not lost Putin’s tenuous grip.

“Although Russia’s nightmare temporarily ended yesterday, this incident will definitely damage the image of Russia and Putin,” said Jin Canrong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing. Sunday wrote on Weibowhere the Wagner Rebellion was a hot topic over the weekend.

Jin, a government advisor known for his fierce anti-American rhetoric, described the quick turn of events as “surreal”.

He wrote: “It is extremely dangerous for a country to support and maintain such a large non-state military group – this ‘scourge’ may break out at any time.”

Commenting on Twitter on Saturday before Prigozhin thwarted his rebellion, Hu Xijin, former editor of the nationalist Global Times newspaper, said that “the armed rebellion has brought the Russian political situation past a turning point.”

“No matter what the outcome of it, Russia can’t go back to the country it was in before the rebellion anymore,” he said in a tweet that was later deleted.

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CNN’s Nathan Hodge and Xiaofei Xu contributed reporting

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