by David J. Bercuson
June 13, 2019
Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Moscow last week and declared that Russian President Vladimir Putin is the equivalent of his BFF (Best Friend Forever). The appellate was once reserved for U.S. President Donald Trump, whose number has clearly been expunged from Xi’s fast-dial list. When the question was raised by the press about this breakup of what was once the world’s best known couple, the answer was that best friends don’t stab each other in the back, referring to the current trade war that has broken out between China and the United States. Trump was no doubt consoled by the latest friendship letter he received from North Korea’s Kim Jong-un this week.
Xi’s visit to Moscow came on the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Moscow and Beijing following the communist takeover of China in 1949. The agreements made in Moscow were deep and wide-ranging. Huawei will build Russia’s 5G network. The two nations will co-operate in Arctic exploration, thus further cementing China’s claim to Arctic status and to free navigation in the Arctic Ocean. They will work together in space exploration, and Russia will support China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” in Asia and elsewhere. Trade deals were signed, as well as agreements for Chinese companies to continue investing in Russia’s Lake Baikal region and for the development of a passenger aircraft. Further co-operation in military and economic matters was pledged.
Both lashed out at the United States, and particularly President Trump, for the American withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. The leaders declared that this action undermines international stability. Both countries are angry about American tariffs and economic sanctions. The meeting was an international love fest designed to show Trump, and no one else, that his actions are driving the two nations together and that they will work to isolate the U.S. in many areas of global diplomacy and trade relations.