September 26, 2022

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Testing the strength of “unlimited” Sino-Russian relations at the summit | China

Significant setbacks for Moscow forces in Ukraine Analysts will experience the “unlimited partnership” between China and Russia when their leaders meet this week for the first time since the invasion.

Xi Jinping and . meeting Russian President Vladimir PutinThe summit, scheduled for Thursday at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, is likely to involve a struggle for influence in Central Asia, where the two world powers have long been locked in a “quiet rivalry”.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit, an annual meeting of Eurasia leaders on regional politics, economics and security, is taking place at a critical time when China is rising and weakening. Russia It could shift the balance of power in Central Asia in Beijing’s favour.

The two leaders also set stops in Kazakhstan, where Xi launched his car for the first time The “Belt and Road” foreign investment initiative of the brand in 2013. Underlining the importance of the region, Xi’s visit will be his first international trip since the epidemic began, and comes just a month before a major meeting of the Communist Party that is expected to cement his unprecedented third term as leader.

Therese Fallon, director of the Center for the Studies of Russia, Europe and Asia, said Central Asia was “at the heart of Xi’s strategies”. “If we think about China’s grand strategy … they were clearly pushing west.”

Xi and Putin last met on the sidelines of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, where they announced their partnership, just weeks before Russia invaded Ukraine. Russian officials said the two leaders had a “complete and detailed agenda” for the talks, and some analysts said they expected Putin to request more help from China after Russia faced one of its worst setbacks in the war.

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Beijing has struggled to balance support for Moscow With a desire to avoid the indirect impact on its economy of sanctions imposed on Russia by the West. She refused to condemn the invasion, and instead blamed the West for inflaming tensions. It stopped short of providing weapons support, but reported that it provided spare parts for drones, and last week participated in joint military exercises in the Sea of ​​Japan.

On Friday, Russia claimed that Beijing’s third-highest-ranking figure had offered unprecedented support for its actions in Ukraine. According to Moscow, Li Zhanshu told Russian lawmakers that China “understands and supports Russia,” especially “regarding the situation in Ukraine.” Chinese readings simply said that Beijing “will continue to work with Russia to firmly support each other” on core interests.

Global response force to the invasion and Russia’s recent losses Asking Xi tough questions about his foreign policy acumen in alignment with Putin, Professor Elizabeth Wishnik, a prominent research scientist and Center for Naval Analytics, on leave from Montclair State University, said, but he would likely remain supportive.

“With Russia under pressure on the battlefield, Xi may feel compelled to express some greater rhetorical support for Russia, or at least offer some additional criticism of NATO and the United States,” Wichnik said.

Analysts have suggested that as Russia’s power wanes, Beijing could gain ground on key issues of trade routes and defense for the Xinjiang regime.

Neva Yao, a senior researcher at the OSCE Academy in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, said China has a long-term goal of shifting global trade from sea trade to land trade, especially for energy trade routes “which could ease sanctions on China if it comes to military takeover of Taiwan.” She said trade and transport agreements, or renamed “Belt and Road” investments, could be announced at the summit.

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Yao said Russia has similar goals to China, but with diminishing power, Putin will likely focus on ensuring that Russia is not excluded from its regional interests by China’s plans.

The Russian war on Ukraine disrupted Chinese land trade routes, complicated Chinese investment in Central Asia, and damaged Russia’s ability to be the dominant security presence in the region, Wishnik said. It left open the question of whether China is ready to take on a greater security role, and whether Russia and the region will accept it.

Before meeting each other, Xi and Putin were reported to have been plotting every where with the President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, a key figure in the region, particularly for China’s interests.

“What we expect from this trip is that Xi Jinping “He’s really trying to see what Tokayev is like as president, and in terms of the basic principles of China,” Yao said.

Tokayev, a former Chinese and Russian-speaking diplomat, came to power in 2019 after nearly three decades of rule. by his predecessor. Analysts said that despite Kazakhstan’s traditional inclination towards Russia – in January Moscow called for help to suppress mass protests – She was also interested in China and its “deep pockets”.

Another key factor for China is securing regional support for its resistance to global condemnation of its human rights abuses in Xinjiang, which borders Kazakhstan, a Muslim-majority country. “Kazakhstan is arguably the most important country to join,” Yao said.