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What you need to know about Putin and Xi Jinping’s summit in China


When China’s top leader Xi Jinping hosts Russian President Vladimir V. Putin this week, the two leaders are expected to present a united front. But they have different agendas.

Putin is trying to escalate his war in Ukraine before the Ukrainian army receives a replenishment of weapons from the United States and may want to know he can rely on China. Xi will seek support from his strategic partners and “old friends,” but he will also be under pressure to avoid further alienating the West by backing Russia.

These priorities are the backdrop for Mr Putin’s two-day state visit, Begins in Beijing on Thursday It will also include a trip to the northeastern city of Harbin, where a China-Russia trade fair is being held.

Putin is likely to seek more help from Beijing, which has provided the Kremlin with a lifeline since the West imposed sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine more than two years ago. China buys large amounts of Russian oil and provides technology, helping Moscow resist economic isolation and sustain its war machine.

Xi Jinping sees Russia as an important counterweight in China’s competition with the United States, but he risks alienating Europe, a key trading partner, as China relies on exports to revive its flagging economy.

Below is information about the summit.

The visit is Putin’s first abroad since he was elected president for a fifth time in March. Putin chose Russia for his first overseas trip after taking office as China’s president for the third time in an unconventional manner in March 2023, and Xi Jinping expressed the same respect for Putin.

Xi Jinping has met with Putin more than 40 times, including virtually, more than any other leader. The two exchanged birthday wishes and called each other “old friend” and “dear” friend, making their relationship very personal.

In Putin, Xi Jinping sees a like-minded authoritarian leader who blames the United States for holding back China’s rise. The two leaders announced an “unrestricted” partnership weeks before Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022 to counter what they saw as U.S. hegemony.

Xi Jinping and Putin also see themselves as the architects of a new world order free from U.S. interference. The two leaders promoted multilateral organizations of developing countries such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and BRICS, so named because it includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, as a way of balancing the West.

Xi Jinping and Putin are likely to use a show of strength and unity during the summit to show other countries that there are alternatives to the U.S.-led global system.

“Russia-China relations have reached an all-time high and continue to strengthen even in the face of a severe international situation,” Putin said in an interview with Chinese state media on Wednesday.

China has vowed not to provide Russia with lethal weapons, but U.S. and Western analysts say it has been providing assistance to Russia with satellite intelligence and fighter jet parts, as well as providing civilian and military components such as microchips, machine tools, and optical equipment. , electronic sensors and telecommunications equipment.

Putin may want to continue providing such parts and equipment to help sustain the military’s progress as he ramps up his war effort.

Russian forces have opened a new offensive line in recent days near Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city. Ukraine’s military is stretched thin and short of weapons, but billions of dollars’ worth of U.S. weapons are expected to arrive soon.

Putin is also expected to pursue more trade and business deals.

Putin has long sought to solidify an agreement on the Power of Siberia 2 gas pipeline, which would redirect Russian gas supplies destined for Europe to China. It is unclear whether Xi Jinping is interested in the pipeline. Analysts said Chinese leaders may be reluctant because it would pass through a third country, Mongolia, which could expose China to potential secondary sanctions and make it more dependent on Russia for energy.

Xi Jinping is trying to ally with Russia while stabilizing relations with the West to help its struggling economy, an approach some call strategic crossover.

China remains neutral on the Ukrainian war issue and is a supporter of peace. It proposed a vague 12-point plan for a political solution to the war and sent envoys across Europe for shuttle diplomacy.

Western countries are dismissive of China’s efforts because they do not call on Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukraine. China has also sided with Russia, blaming North Atlantic Treaty Organization expansion for creating tensions that led to Moscow’s invasion.

Xi Jinping’s refusal to condemn the Kremlin’s war ultimately soured China’s relations with the West and led to Europe’s growing alignment with the United States on security issues. That makes China’s efforts to prevent a trade war with the European Union over Chinese electric vehicle exports and market access for European companies more difficult for Xi.

Tensions with the United States are also rising, testing the tentative détente reached by President Joe Biden and Xi Jinping in November.Biden administration on Tuesday Announcing a significant increase in tariffs A range of Chinese imports including electric vehicles, solar cells, semiconductors and advanced batteries.

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