Early Monday morning, President Xi Jinping of China landed in Moscow for a three-day trip that is meant to show solidarity with Russia and its ongoing invasion of Ukraine. It makes sense that China would support Vladimir Putin’s war – after all, Xi wants to do the same to Taiwan before too long.
The visit comes after Putin visited Russia-controlled Mariupol, a Ukrainian city that Russia destroyed during the course of its invasion of Ukraine. His visit was to celebrate the successful rebuilding of that city. It’s the latest in Putin’s attempts to show strength, despite the longer-than-expected conflict.
NOW – China's Xi Jinping arrives in Moscow to meet Putin. pic.twitter.com/yZAAeXeYMW
— Disclose.tv (@disclosetv) March 20, 2023
However, their meeting is about way more than just Ukraine and Taiwan. It’s a show of solidarity and strength to the rest of the world. As Axios notes, China isn’t running afoul of the West yet, but this meeting is almost a provocation of sorts.
Why it matters: The three-day state visit is a major display of solidarity with Russia from its most important global partner. It comes amid warnings from Washington that Xi might back the Russian war effort more directly by providing arms — claims China has denied.
- Thus far, China has not provided weapons or openly breached Western sanctions.
- It has, however, helped shield Russia from Western efforts to isolate it, significantly increased imports of Russian oil, and become an even more crucial source for Russia of key inputs like microchips.
- While Beijing claims to be a neutral arbiter and presented its own peace plan last month, officials and state media have echoed Putin’s arguments that NATO is to blame. Some pro-Ukraine sentiments have been scrubbed from the internet.
But, this meeting is important for one big reason. It’s a combination of powers that both want the same thing: Regional dominance and the removal of Western influence from their spheres.
Now, to your average, anti-war nationalist/isolationist, that’s an okay thing. We should all leave each other alone. But the problem is that we’re past the point of no return on true nationalist isolation – we are in a global economy, and our national economic strength relies on global trade. What’s more, the best way to stay out of armed conflict is to be strong enough to talk people out of it before it starts.
For a while now, foreign policy experts have worried that we have moved on from the bi-polar world of the 1980s (U.S. and Russia) to a tri-polar world (U.S. and Russia and China). But in recent years, something has become apparent: China and Russia are behind where we thought they’d be.
For example, a nation like Russia by all estimates should have been able to decimate Ukraine fairly easily with nothing the U.S./Nato would have been able to do about it before it was all over. However, Russia has struggled – their military strength was not what we thought it was, and Ukraine has been able to successfully turn this into a long, protracted conflict that the Russians do not seem to have been prepared to fight.
As far as China goes, it’s clear that the Chinese military and economy are both built on a pretty unstable foundation – like a house of cards, they are flimsy at best. China has been largely unable to innovate, and instead chooses espionage and theft of corporate and military secrets in order advance, and what they do end up stealing usually seems to be a generation or two behind where the most modern innovations are.
But that doesn’t mean both countries are powerless.
And while that bodes well for the U.S., those two powers coming together should worry the likes of the Biden administration, which has thus far proven entirely incapable when it comes to foreign policy.
Biden has ceded much of the Middle East to China – for example, choosing to favor Iran over our allies in Saudi Arabia and leading both to turn to China for help in creating stability. He has also allowed China to fly a spy balloon over the country, Russia to be held pretty much unaccountable for its invasion, and North Korea to get more aggressive in its provocations against the U.S. and South Korea.
If the world looked at the Trump administration as a joke, God knows what they think of the Biden administration, which has been so meek and timid when it comes to global affairs that it would be better if we said nothing at all.
A meeting of the minds between China and Russia is a clear sign that the U.S. shrinking from the world stage is bad and destabilizing. We will see more conflicts, and the U.S. will get drawn into a conflict whether we want to or not. But if we are, our best hope is that it does not happen before Joe Biden leaves office.