Wang Yi’s Visit To Russia: Measuring Strategic Alignment Of Sino-Russian Relations – Analysis


China and Russia have a strong alliance and strategic partnership, driven by a shared objective of countering perceived norms by the United States and Western nations in their domestic affairs. Furthermore, they have provided mutual assistance on a range of regional and global matters, including Ukraine, the circumstances surrounding North Korean nuclear missile tests, the maintenance of security in the Asia-Pacific region, and the reformation of multilateral institutions. Amidst the continuing geopolitical dynamics in the ties between China and Russia, the Chinese diplomat, Wang Yi, embarked on a visit to Russia.

Over the last decade, there has been a notable expansion in economic and military relations between China and Russia. China is the primary partner for Russia and plays a significant role as a major purchaser of its oil and gas exports. Additionally, bilateral agreements have been reached between the two nations about nuclear energy, the development of high-speed railway systems, electronic commerce, and the establishment of 5G networks.

There are several potential rationales for the travel of China’s prominent diplomat, Wang Yi, to Russia. Both nations are seeking to make arrangements in anticipation of a potential meeting between President Xi Jinping and President Vladimir Putin, scheduled to take place in Beijing in October. The two leaders have refrained from engaging in direct personal meetings after the issuance of an arrest warrant by the International Criminal Court against Putin on charges related to war crimes committed in Ukraine.

China’s Wang Yi has expressed his intention to engage in a discussion about the security situation in Ukraine with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov. The United States and other European countries accused China of giving Russia indirect assistance during the war in Ukraine, which China refuted. Nevertheless, China and Russia maintain a strong alliance and mutually endorse each other’s positions on these matters. China has adopted a non-aligned stance in the war; however, it has levied allegations against the United States for exacerbating the duration of the hostilities via the provision of weaponry to Ukraine.

China has emphasized that Russia’s intervention in Ukraine was necessary to protect its interests and security in response to the expansion of NATO. China and Russia have mutual apprehensions over the position and influence of the United States in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly about Taiwan, Hong Kong, the South China Sea, and the Korean Peninsula.

This visit carried particular significance as both governments sought to synchronize their stances on North Korea, which recently engaged in discussions with Putin and reached an agreement to collaborate on matters about the military and satellite domains. China serves as the primary economic partner of North Korea and has a significant influence on its policy decisions. Russia also has a keen interest in the nuclear and missile capabilities of North Korea, which have the potential to pose a significant danger to the United States and its allied nations.

A significant focal point of Wang Yi’s visit was the subsequent discussions between US national security advisor Jake Sullivan and Wang Yi in Malta. These deliberations encompassed the intricate dynamics of the US-China bilateral relationship and regional security concerns The discussions were seen as productive and had the potential to facilitate a future encounter between President Xi Jinping and President Joe Biden in the next year.

China and Russia are now engaged in efforts to effectively address their divergences with the United States to prevent any potential conflict or the emergence of a new cold war. The visit has significant geopolitical implications as it signifies China and Russia’s concerted efforts to enhance their alliance and cooperation in response to the mounting pressure and sanctions imposed by the United States and Western nations. The alliance between the two entities has the potential to enhance the bilateral trade and investment dynamics between China and Russia, with a particular focus on the energy, technology, and infrastructure industries. The visit could bolster their economic collaboration and mitigate the repercussions of sanctions and export limits imposed by the United States and Western countries.

This visit is important in light of the continuing financial disruptions. Moreover, the Chinese economy is now going through a period of upheaval. Furthermore, it is noteworthy that both China and Russia have expressed their desire to contest the prevailing dominance of the US dollar inside the global financial system. China and Russia have shown a trend of diminishing their dependence on the United States dollar while concurrently augmenting their utilization of their respective currencies or other options in the realm of trade and investment operations.

Additionally, they have worked together to establish alternative payment systems, such as the Cross-Border Interbank Payment System and the System for Transfer of Financial Messages, to get around the SWIFT network, which is largely under American control. The visit has the potential to enhance their endeavors in advocating for a multipolar financial system and mitigating their susceptibility to penalties imposed by the United States.

From a geopolitical perspective, there is a concerted effort by Russia and China to align their stances on matters about global economic governance and developmental concerns. China and Russia are constituent members of the BRICS partnership. In August 2023, the BRICS partnership was expanded to include an additional six nations. Additionally, they actively participate in the Belt and Road Initiative, which is an ambitious endeavor by China to establish extensive infrastructure and enhance connectivity across Eurasia and other regions. Furthermore, they have mutually endorsed one another’s endeavors to become members of or bring about changes inside multilateral organizations, including but not limited to the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank.

The visit has the potential to further their collaboration on these platforms and promote their shared objectives and vision for a global economic order that is more inclusive and fairer. The significance of Sino-Russian relations in the context of current global political transformations resides in their capacity to pose a challenge to the prevailing US-led international order, potentially jeopardizing the security and interests of the United States and its allied nations. China and Russia are considered revisionist countries that want to establish a post-West international order, whereby the United States would no longer possess the ability to shape the financial and political dynamics.

The potential ramifications of the visit by China’s prominent representative, Wang Yi, to Russia, are noteworthy given the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. This visit has the potential to serve as an indication of China’s sustained support for Russia’s actions and objectives within the area. China has adopted a neutral stance in the conflict, asserting that although the territorial integrity of nations should be maintained, Western nations must acknowledge and address Russia’s security apprehensions.

Moreover, by approving North Korea’s engagement in military collaboration with Russia, China has the potential to assist Russia while incurring little damage to its image. The potential attribution of responsibility to the rogue government of North Korea for its activities may be asserted while simultaneously disavowing any kind of connection. Also, the military dynamics associated with this visit exhibit a high degree of complexity and diversity. This is because China and Russia, being significant global powers, have distinct interests and wield influence in many geographical regions and sectors.

In conclusion, the bilateral ties between China and Russia have strengthened in recent years due to the deterioration of their relations with Western countries. The Sino-Russian alliance is actively seeking assistance in its endeavor to reform the prevailing U.S.-dominated global order, aiming to create a framework that aligns better with its principles and strategies.

Aishwarya Sanjukta Roy Proma

Aishwarya Sanjukta Roy Proma is a Research Associate at the BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD). She is a research analyst in security studies. She obtained her Master's and Bachelor's in International Relations from the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh.

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