Russian President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping in China. The anticipated summit aims to deepen the already fortified ties between the two countries, both of whom are currently the foremost strategic adversaries of the United States.
The Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, taking place from October 17-18, will play host to this crucial rendezvous. Notably, this is Putin's inaugural overseas venture since the International Criminal Court in The Hague charged him over the contentious deportation of children from Ukraine earlier this year.
The Undeclared Alliance
China and Russia's recent political history is marked by a "no-holds-barred" partnership, established in February 2022. This agreement was ratified shortly before Russia's massive military intervention in Ukraine, resulting in the gravest European conflict since World War II.
As the global landscape stands, the U.S. recognizes China as its predominant competitor and Russia as its chief nation-state adversary. President Joe Biden has been vocal about his vision of the 21st century, which, in his perspective, will be characterized by a pivotal contest between democracies and autocracies.
Renowned Harvard University professor and former assistant secretary of defense, Graham Allison, highlighted the magnitude of this alliance. "Over the past decade, Xi has built with Putin's Russia the most consequential undeclared alliance in the world," he noted.
The U.S., according to Allison, must confront "the inconvenient fact that a rapidly rising systemic rival and a revanchist one-dimensional superpower with the largest nuclear arsenal in the world are tightly aligned in opposing the USA."
China-Russia Dynamics: Historical and Contemporary
Historically, Russia, during its Soviet epoch, occupied the senior position within the global Communist order.
However, the tables have turned. In the post-Soviet world, Russia, while still a significant player, has become somewhat of a junior ally to a rejuvenated Communist China led by Xi, arguably the most influential Chinese leader since the era of Mao Zedong.
Despite sharing a mutual worldview that portrays the West as deteriorating, the two leaders also confront internal and external pressures. Xi, steering a colossal $18 trillion economy, juggles his robust rapport with Putin and the intricacies of engaging with the United States, which boasts a $27 trillion economy, formidable military might, and immense wealth.
Given the geopolitical stakes, the U.S. has issued stern advisories against China aiding Russia, especially militarily, as the Ukrainian conflict rages on. In this grand game of geopolitics, the Beijing meeting between Putin and Xi stands as a symbol of a world in flux, where alliances and rivalries will define the future global order.