Skip to main content

khrushcheva112_MikhailSvetlovGettyImages_jinpingputinshakehandsflags Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Should the Russians Hug the Chinese?

At a time when US President Donald Trump is waging a trade war against China, Chinese President Xi Jinping has found a new “best friend” in his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. But is this new friendship really in Russia’s best interest?

MOSCOW – Chinese President Xi Jinping was the toast of Russia last week. He smiled at the Moscow Zoo as Russian President Vladimir Putin admired the pandas Xi had brought (a standard Chinese gift to countries it courts). In St. Petersburg, he toured the Aurora, the warship that fired the shot marking the start of the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, and took an evening boat cruise with Putin. At the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, he quoted Fyodor Dostoevsky.

At a time when US President Donald Trump – who once called his relationship with his Chinese counterpart “outstanding” – is waging a trade war against China, Xi needs a new “best friend.” In his own words, that is what he has found in Putin. But is all this mutual affection really in Russia’s best interest?

To be sure, this is not a new development. Over the last six years, Putin and Xi have met at least 30 times, and annual trade between their countries amounts to more than $100 billion. But the bilateral relationship has deepened significantly lately, exemplified by last week’s Forum, which resulted in more than 25 trade and other agreements covering areas ranging from agriculture to technology. Both leaders gush that their two countries are now on better terms than ever.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.

Subscribe

Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.

https://prosyn.org/eQyyUTA;

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated Cookie policy, Privacy policy and Terms & Conditions