“It seems that he is forming a coalition directed simultaneously against China and Russia” said the director of the Chinese Institute for International Relations, Yan Xuetong, yesterday in an interview with Nezavisimaja Gazeta. Yan was commenting on the meeting between the foreign ministers of Russia and China, Sergej Lavrov and Wang Yi in the Chinese city of Guilin (Guangxi).
The Russian minister’s journey to China, immediately after the meeting of Chinese and American diplomats in Alaska, actually suggests that Moscow and Beijing have decided to coordinate their reactions to the challenge launched by Washington to the two superpowers at the same time.
Beijing is convinced that relations with the new US administration will be even more complicated than with Donald Trump and as a result the Chinese have decided to strengthen cooperation with Russia. The areas of share interest include the economic sphere and issues of strategic importance such as the nuclear dossier on Iran, North Korea and Afghanistan.
The choice of Guilin, instead of the capital, may seem surprising for such a high profile meeting, despite the wonderful landscapes offered by the city. In addition to promoting tourism, the choice could concern the delicacy of the negotiations, which suggest greater confidentiality.
In an interview with Nezavisimaja Gazeta, Yan Xuetong noted that “President Biden, after taking office, decided to communicate more often with his allies. He promoted the summit with the leaders of Japan, Australia and India in the Quad format (“the quartet”), his diplomats conducted talks with South Korea and Japan, and Secretary of State Blinken flew to Brussels for the meetings with NATO and the European Union.”
According to Yan, Lavrov’s visit is intended to “strengthen strategic coordination with China, which also has no intention of turning America into an all-out enemy. China would like to return to the previous conditions of mutual respect”. Not even Russia has the intention of definitively breaking off relations with Westerners, despite Lavrov’s repeated declarations on the “end of relations” between Russia and the European Union.
Moscow and Beijing fear that their domestic politics will suffer from American interference, with attempts to foment “flower revolutions” by supporting opposition movements, such as that of Navalnyi in Russia (and of Belarusian women), or Hong Kong protests.
Russian expert, Alexei Maslov, director of the Far Eastern Institute of the Academy of Sciences, also spoke with the Nezavisimaja Gazeta, observing “there are issues that China can hope to solve only with the help of of Russia “.
One of these would be the weakening of the economic strength of the dollar and the “de-dollarization” of the two countries, a factor mentioned several times by Lavrov himself. “In this China cannot do without Russia, considering the level of trade relations between the two, which exceed $ 100 billion,” Maslov said.
The Guilin meeting prepares the possible celebrations of 20 years of the Basic Agreement between Russia and China, which was signed on July 16, 2001. Speaking to the Chinese press, Lavrov announced that Presidents Putin and Xi Jinping are drafting a joint statement for the twenty year anniversary of the Agreement, even if he denied the hypotheses of a “military agreement” between the two countries, which would be the beginning of a new era of confrontation with the West.