On February 4th, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin held a bilateral summit in Beijing, followed by a working lunch. During the almost four-hour meeting, the two countries negotiated some economic cooperation agreements in key areas.
The two sides issued a “joint statement on international relations in the new era and global sustainable development.” Still, according to Creaders, the specific content of the joint statement was not revealed, raising the question: What exactly did Xi Jinping get from Putin this time?
The official Xinhua News Agency used around 1,800 words to report on the meeting between Xi Jinping and Putin. Over two-thirds of which were used to recite Xi Jinping’s statements.
In comparison, only 460 words were used to express Putin’s perspective. Some analysts say that Beijing has treated Putin coldly.
Putin’s support for Beijing was restated in the “Joint Statement.” The statement said:
“The Russian side reaffirms its support for the One-China principle, confirms that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China, and opposes any forms of independence of Taiwan.”
On its side, Beijing also stated unequivocally that they “oppose further enlargement of NATO” and call on NATO “to abandon its ideologized cold war approaches.” This is the first time China directly talked about the Ukraine conflict.
At least there were three key sectors covered by the agreement inked by two countries.
First, Russia will deliver 100 million tons of oil to China over ten years. The overall sum of the agreement is undetermined because it will be set by the oil market price, which is a contract worth 80 billion dollars at the current market price.
The second goal is to expand Russian natural gas exports to China by 25% to 48 billion cubic meters per year.
Third, Russia’s regions can offer wheat and barley to China.
These three accords have significantly reduced the burden on Russia from Western social and economic sanctions. During the meeting, Putin requested natural gas settlement in Euros, which is thought to assist Putin in enhancing his negotiating power in European discussions. Still, it may happen as a scheme for Xi Jinping, who has long advocated for Yuan globalization.
According to Creaders, Xi Jinping and Putin’s relationship is not tight enough, based on a few minor issues. First and foremost, although it was the first meeting in two years-long and it coincided with the Beijing Winter Olympics, Putin’s visit to Beijing was very short.
Second, Xi Jinping opted to see Putin at the Diaoyutai State Guest House rather than the Great Hall of the People. This was deemed insufficiently formal and interpreted as a sign of Xi Jinping’s apathy towards Putin.
But, whether Xi Jinping is excited or not, Putin stands to benefit from the economic deals. However, some observers view that Beijing is the one who actually profited, at least for now.
The “Voice of America” analysis also noted that the delegation led by Putin’s visit to Beijing was so modest that their visit only lasted for one day. Putin is also said to have skipped the official banquet in Beijing.
According to the Washington Post, the whole China-Russia joint statement made no mention of Ukraine; it indicates that China is unwilling to sign a blank check for invasion of Ukraine.
Some analysts added that Beijing would suffer two negative repercussions if it follows Russia too closely on the Ukraine problem. The other way is to become the exclusive focus of America’s national security policy.
China also wants to avoid enraging the EU, causing the EU to expand its support for Taiwan, making it more difficult for China to invade Taiwan.