China, Russia take aim at West unveiling new blueprint for ties

Moscow joint statement hits out at U.S. “Indo-Pacific strategy” and attempts to “politicise” multilateral groupings amid G20 differences.

Published - March 22, 2023 04:39 pm IST - Beijing

China President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin make a toast during a reception following their talks at the Kremlin in Moscow on March 21, 2023.

China President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin make a toast during a reception following their talks at the Kremlin in Moscow on March 21, 2023. | Photo Credit: AFP

China and Russia on Wednesday unveiled a broad long-term blueprint for their deepening relations, pledging to work together to push back against the U.S. Indo-Pacific strategy as well as attempts to “politicise” multilateral platforms.

A joint statement, released in Mandarin and Russian, following Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Moscow and talks with President Vladimir Putin, said both sides “firmly condemn the politicisation” of multilateral platforms and “attempts of certain countries to fill the agenda of multilateral platforms with unrelated issues and dilute the primary mission of the relevant mechanisms.”

This reference pointed to sharp divisions in the G20 ahead of this year’s summit to be hosted by India. China and Russia earlier this month opposed references to the Ukraine war leading to the failure of the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting in New Delhi to issue a collective statement. 

The lengthy joint statement also expressed “serious concern over NATO’s continued strengthening of military-security ties with Asia-Pacific countries” and said both sides “oppose the cobbling together of a closed and exclusive bloc structure in the Asia-Pacific region, creating bloc politics and camp confrontation”. Chinese officials have previously referred to the India-U.S.-Australia-Japan Quad as an “exclusive bloc”. The statement accused the U.S. of following “a Cold War mentality” and said its Indo-Pacific strategy “has a negative impact on peace and stability in the region.”

Instead, the joint statement said, China and Russia were “committed to building an equal, open and inclusive security system in the Asia-Pacific region that does not target third countries”, pointedly using the term “Asia-Pacific” and not Indo-Pacific.

Both Mr. Xi and Mr. Putin hailed the state of their relations following lengthy talks in Moscow. The Chinese leader once again referenced Beijing’s position paper on the Ukraine crisis, but the visit didn’t appear to suggest any major breakthrough in Chinese efforts to broker a peace in Ukraine, which Chinese media have highlighted in the wake of the recent landmark Saudi-Iran deal signed in Beijing. The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Wednesday didn’t comment on reports suggesting Mr. Xi would shortly hold a telephone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Also read: Examining the Russia-China axis 

The joint statement criticised the West over Ukraine, saying both sides “oppose the practice by any country or group of countries to seek advantages in the military, political and other areas to the detriment of the legitimate security interests of other countries.” It said the “Russian side welcomes China’s willingness to play a positive role for the political and diplomatic settlement of the Ukraine crisis”.

Mr. Xi on Tuesday stressed the longevity of China-Russia ties, saying relations were “consistent with historical logic and a strategic choice of China.” “It will not be changed by any turn of events,” he said, adding that “changes unseen in a century are evolving faster and the international balance of power is undergoing a profound shift.”

Both pledged to work together in multilateral groupings including BRICS, and also to take forward collaboration in the recently dormant Russia-India-China grouping. The two sides also said they would “support each other firmly in safeguarding their core interests, first and foremost sovereignty, territorial integrity, security and development interests.” Russia said it supports China on Taiwan and also “firmly supports China’s initiatives to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Besides a joint statement, both sides also announced a “Plan to Promote the Key Elements of Russian-Chinese Economic Cooperation until 2030.” Mr. Putin said both sides had agreed “a package of 80 important and promising bilateral projects in various fields worth around $165 billion.”

“Russia is a strategic supplier of oil, natural gas, including LNG, coal, and electricity to China,” he said. “Russian gas supplies to China are to reach at least 98 billion cubic metres by 2030, plus 100 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas. We have just discussed a good project, the new Power of Siberia-2 gas pipeline across Mongolia. We have reached agreement on most of the deal’s parameters. Russia will export 50 billion cubic metres of gas from reliable, stable supplies.”

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