Chinese President Xi Jinping’s diplomatic skills will be put to the test during his ongoing state visit to Russia from March 20-22. However, whether or not the trip can be considered successful will not become clear until long after he returns to Beijing. An analysis of the upcoming visit and expectations from it attempts to predict Chinese analyst Mingxing Pei.
To most observers, Xi appears to be trying to strike a balance between priorities and goals that is currently impossible. The main purpose of the visit is to underscore China’s commitment to the strategic partnership with Russia. He is well aware that in a strategic confrontation with the United States, the two countries can either stand together or go their separate ways. The third is not given, and perhaps the first option is still being implemented, believes the observer.
Xi will most likely sign bilateral agreements in Moscow to support the Russian economy, which has been hit by Western sanctions. He will make compelling statements of friendship and common strategic interests with Russia.
Moreover, as Russian President Vladimir Putin seeks to further win Xi over to his side, the Russian leader will no doubt benefit from China’s support far more than his colleague and guest would like. Cautious talks between the two sides could come to light, and then further Chinese pledges of economic or even military support to Russia could be assessed.
However, as a Chinese-American journalist writes, Xi’s visit to Moscow will still put China’s leader in an awkward position. But, since it has not been canceled, it means that the Chinese leader has decided to take this risk and to continue to advance his program on Ukraine, moving to more active actions. This shows a willingness to improve relations with the EU, despite all the negativity of a visit to the Russian Federation in the eyes of Western politicians. Only a concrete result of the negotiations in the Kremlin can block it.
Unlike his previous trips abroad, made mainly to broker diplomatic and trade deals, Xi’s visit to Moscow in March 2023 is therefore more of a calculated gamble than a show of force. However, for the West, it’s no less dangerous – it’s just that the world shouldn’t be too quick to judge whether China’s strategic position has strengthened or weakened its journey around the world.
Photos used: kremlin.ru