The Multifarious Moscow Meeting


Stefanie Galpern

Upon President Xi Jinping’s arrival in Moscow, the Chinese leader met with Russian President, Vladimir Putin, at the Kremlin on March 20th local time. Throughout the summit, which lasted approximately 4 hours, two aspects were made crystal clear: a rapport between the presidents and common shameful feeling towards the system of democracy and the U.S., having retained it the longest. 


A total of 14 agreements were yielded for strengthening their natural gas trade and expanding other economic relations. But while the said “friends” were illustrating their rapport, the summit produced no substantial development in ending the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. 


According to a statement delivered by China’s Foreign Ministry, a cessation of actions that would “prolong” the war was suggested. However, the statement and meeting did not acknowledge Russia as the source of the continuing terror in Ukraine. 


But, what does a ceasefire mean for Ukraine? 


Well, for one a ceasefire is only a transitory end to conflict, so it could certainly mean that the already dominant Russia would take the time off, to focus on their militarization and mobilization. All so Russia can “come back again with their single wish, the wish of their leader – that is to occupy [Ukraine],” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed in regards to the suggested cessation. Furthermore, a new military conscription law signed by Putin a couple of days ago, makes Zelenskyy’s statement appear rationally. With the new adjustments, draftees are instantly prohibited from leaving the country from the moment the electronic conscription message is sent out. Thus proposing the question, is China the self-described “peacemaker,” or an accomplice?


China and Russia, before Russia’s breach of Ukraine, even declared their partnership as one of  “no limits.” At first glance, this appears to be alluding to the trade agreements produced following the summit. But, more prominently, this description points at China’s role in this destructive war. Recently, Russian shortages of ammunition have had a harrowing effect on their Ukrainian advance–resulting in grave artillery rationing. But now since the countries have a said “better than allies” relationship, perhaps China will be of assistance to Russia, regarding ramifications for the war.


Now, what exactly do these relations mean for China and Europe? 


As of 2020, China replaced the U.S., becoming Europe’s largest trading partner in terms of goods. The two powers have close diplomatic relations dating back decades, notably enhanced by the declaration of their “Strategic Partnership,” in September of 2003. However, earlier this year the EU restated their criticism of Russia’s “brutal war of aggression,” as they reasserted their support of Ukraine. Likewise, the EU has been supplying Ukraine with ammunition as well. Considering the diverging partners–Europe and China–amid conflictions in the Russo-Ukrainian War, the future is unclear for China and Europe’s partnership.


From this, a complex question is raised–why would China risk losing their biggest trading partner?


For years the U.S. has been regarded as a top player in the hierarchy, regionally and globally. Further, the U.S. and China have been long time ‘frenemies’, with intricate international relations–which have mostly been contained for years. But, now Chinese President Xi Jinping has been decisively counteracting the U.S. system, in an attempt to raise China’s economic power. During the summit, between Chinese and Russian presidents, one aspect that, according to Fareed Zakaria, “got limited media attention” was a statement from Putin.  Putin spoke on behalf of Xi Jinping when he said, “We are in favor of using the Chinese yuan for settlements between Russia and the countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America.” Now, Russia appears to be working with China in a prominent underlying motive: the weakening of the U.S. dollar. In an excellent discussion, CNN’s Zakaria labeled the U.S. dollar as “America’s last surviving superpower,” which status gives Washington the privilege to spend freely, with other countries covering its debt. The American dollar is also loved for its efficiency, importing and exporting abilities, and the fact of being governed by the market–paradoxical to the yuan. But now with the assistance of Russia combined with America’s history of poor spending habits, the expansion of the yuan is now more possible than ever. This creates a terrifying question, what happens to the U.S. if their dear dollar declines.


Continuing the topic of overlooked Chinese motives, one that must be accounted for is the domestic issue within China. The recent social unrest in China is stemming from an intense feeling of resentment towards the government corruption, implementation of propaganda, censorship, severe Covid-19 restrictions, and intense economic adversity. Could there potentially be another Chinese Revolution, and is Xi Jinping anticipating this?


Why now, amid uprisings in China, does Xi Jinping decide to express a close rapport with Putin that has never been seen before? Perhaps the strong authoritarian combination with Vladimir Putin means something deeper to Xi Jinping, other than the shared desire to diverge from the liberal and democratic world order, set by the U.S. Evidently, the combined military strength with Russia, should hit China with a sense of nationalism. Moreover, with China’s strong military, Chinese individuals will feel a sense of global prestige combined with patriotism, which can certainly be powerful enough to override the resentment and puzzle China back together. 


Given the multitude of countries involved, the underlying and blatant motives, and the severe effects to come, it is crucial that we account for everything, regarding the multifarious Moscow meeting.