Mr. Xi and Mr. Putin denounced the initiatives. They have long viewed these two main areas of Washington’s strategy — promoting democracy abroad and deploying or sharing troops and military equipment — as huge threats to their nations.
“It is hoped that the US side will take off its tinted glasses, abandon the Cold War state of mind, view China-Russia relations and cooperation objectively, recognize the prevailing trend of the times, and do more which are beneficial to world peace and development,” said Liu Pengyu, spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, when asked to comment on this article.
Alexander Gabuev, chair of the Russia in Asia-Pacific program at the Carnegie Moscow Center, said the joint statement by China and Russia was a notable public step, but the most important cooperation was taking place below the surface. In particular, he said, Russia’s arms sales to the Chinese military should be of great concern to US policymakers.
Gabuev also noted that because the two nations settled territorial disputes along their 2,700-mile border in 2008 and increased military cooperation, Moscow felt confident enough to move troops from its east to nearby Ukraine to prepare for a possible invasion. Russian troops on borders with China and Mongolia at lowest level since 1922.
However, the two nations also compete and disagree on major issues. China has a growing footprint in Central Asia, whose former Soviet republics are seen by Moscow as part of its sphere of influence. China insists it is now a power in the Arctic, a region Mr Putin has sought to dominate. And the country has important trade relations with the countries of the former Eastern European bloc.
China is Ukraine’s biggest trading partner and Beijing has recognized the nation’s sovereignty for decades. He has never acknowledged Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula. Notably, the joint statement made no explicit mention of Ukraine.
“When I was in government, we looked very carefully at China’s calculations and found the things that weren’t consistent with what Putin was trying to do and worked on that basis,” said Daniel Russel, former secretary of Deputy State. for East Asia and Pacific Affairs. “The thing is, it’s so late in the game and all three teams have moved so far into this uneven triangle, that it’s really not going to be easy to try to undo this.”
Eric Schmitt contributed report.