Communist China is aligning itself with Russia as part of an ideological struggle to overcome the United States and dismantle the rules-based international order, according to experts.
Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Xi Jinping’s recent visit to Moscow has underscored the regime’s attempts to deepen ties with Vladimir Putin’s Russia and to undermine international order, several experts said during a March 27 discussion at the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based think tank.
“What we should get out of this latest visit is a true understanding of the fact that China intends to deepen its relationship with Russia and has done so in many ways over the last year,” said David Shullman, Senior Director of the Atlantic Council’s Global China Hub.
“The expectation that Xi Jinping was going to come to Moscow and that his goal was going to be to somehow actually create peace and solve the [Ukraine] conflict was a bit of a misnomer.”
Shullman said that the CCP under Xi’s rulership worked tirelessly to establish itself as Russia’s “most important strategic partner,” even as Russia engaged in its attempted conquest of Ukraine.
To that end, Shullman said, the regime had tossed aside its alleged commitment to regional stability and order to better carry out a “joint struggle… against the United States.”
That joint struggle, Shullman added, is ultimately intended to replace the existing rules-based international order with a “vision of a new global order and a revisionist approach to international institutions.”
Indeed, Xi and Putin made just such a vision explicit last week.
China, Russia Seek to Replace US with ‘Multipolar World Order’
Xi met with Putin last week in Moscow, where the two leaders openly pledged to reshape the international order to their interests. Putin said that China and Russia would create a more just “multipolar world order” to replace the “rules” of the current international order.
Xi and Putin first declared a “no limits” partnership in February 2022, weeks before Russia launched its attempted conquest of Ukraine. That partnership has deepened significantly since.
Michael Schuman, a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council said the regime was developing its foreign policy to reflect a new, more aggressive ambition to displace the United States completely.
“What you see happening in the China-Russia relationship is part of a much, much broader picture of where China is going in the world and where Chinese foreign policy is going to bring that about,” Schuman said.
“The Biden administration has to start seeing this relationship between China and Russia for what it really is, which is an attempt by the world’s two greatest authoritarian states to actively try to change the world order.”
To that end, Schuman said that the risk of escalation and conflict was growing because of the nature of the antagonism between the United States and the CCP. The competition is no longer about just trade or technology issues, he said, but increasingly about the very ideas of what makes for a just world.
With the transformation of the growing competition between the United States and CCP into a conflict of ideas, Schuman said, the United States would need to be much more aggressive in asserting the primacy of democratic societies against authoritarian ones.
Only through assertiveness, he stated, could the Biden administration set an adequate example for the nations of the world, and convince them not to abandon the current world order for a new, authoritarian one.
“This is taking the increasing confrontation with China to a very different level,” Schuman said.
“Because of that, the response of the United States has to be much more aggressive and much more targeted at selling the U.S. agenda, selling the benefits of the current world order, the importance of the rules-based world order.”