White House: ‘No Surprise’ Over Strengthening Russia–China Alliance

Russia and communist China’s common goal is to challenge the international-ruled based order, White House says.
White House: ‘No Surprise’ Over Strengthening Russia–China Alliance
Russia's President Vladimir Putin gets off his car in Harbin, China, on May 17, 2024. (Alexander Ryumin/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

The White House stated that it’s “no surprise” that Russia and communist China continue to strengthen their strategic partnership after the two countries’ leaders hugged twice in front of cameras on May 17.

“What they have in common is a desire to challenge the international rules-based order, challenge the network of alliances and partnerships that the United States enjoys, [and] try to look for ways to bolster each other’s national security interests,” John Kirby, President Joe Biden’s national security spokesman, told reporters at a May 17 briefing.

“We didn’t see anything coming out of this meeting that we were necessarily surprised by.”

Mr. Kirby’s comments come as Russian President Vladimir Putin traveled to China for a second visit in less than a year.

During the meeting with Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Xi Jinping, Mr. Putin reaffirmed the “no limit” partnership he declared weeks before sending troops to Ukraine in 2022.

They also issued a 7,000-word joint statement on May 16 in a display of their closeness amid U.S.-led pressure over Russia’s war against Ukraine and China’s aid to Moscow.

After a day of talks in Beijing, Xi, who is not known for displaying warmth with other leaders, initiated a hug with a smile after shaking hands with Mr. Putin, video footage released by China’s state broadcaster CCTV shows.

The Krelimin chief appeared to hesitate for a few seconds then raised his arms and embraced Xi, and the two patted each other on the shoulders. The two leaders shook hands again before Mr. Putin left in his state car.

Asked about the footage, Mr. Kirby brushed off the two leaders’ display of closeness.

“That’s nice for them,” Mr. Kirby said. “[As the two countries] clearly are acting in various ways around the world inimical to our national security interests, [it’s] no surprise that these two leaders continue to try to develop this burgeoning relationship.

“But they’re also two leaders that don’t have a long history of working together. And officials in both governments that aren’t necessarily all that trustful of the other.”

Concerns about the CCP’s support for Russia’s war efforts have increased in recent months. The United States has repeatedly warned Beijing to stop sending machine tools, chips, and other materials that have both civilian and military uses to help rebuild Moscow’s defense sector.

A similar message was delivered by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during a talk with the CCP leader and French President Emmanuel Macron earlier this month. Calling the war in Ukraine an existential threat to Europe, Ms. von der Leyen urged Beijing to halt the supply of dual-use goods that end up on the battlefield.

At a regular briefing on May 16, the State Department warned that the CCP must decide between continuing to support Russia and maintaining a relationship with the West.

“[China] can’t have its cake and eat it, too,” State Department spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters, saying the CCP is fueling “the biggest threat to European security in a long time.”

Mr. Putin spent his last day in China in the northern city of Harbin, where he visited a China-Russia Expo. He also met students at the Harbin Institute of Technology, China’s top institution for weapon science, which was sanctioned by the Commerce Department.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin meets with students at Harbin Institute of Technology in Harbin, China, on May 17, 2024. (Mikhail Metzel/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)
Russia's President Vladimir Putin meets with students at Harbin Institute of Technology in Harbin, China, on May 17, 2024. (Mikhail Metzel/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

It’s Mr. Putin’s first overseas trip since he commenced a new six-year term as president earlier this month. The move extended Mr. Putin’s 24 years of rule and put him on track to become one of Russia’s longest-serving leaders.

Choosing Beijing as the first destination abroad in Mr. Putin’s fifth term in office, the Russian leader has sent a message highlighting the CCP’s importance to Moscow, analysts have said.
Since Xi took office in 2012, Mr. Putin has met with him more than 40 times. The CCP leader also chose Moscow as his first destination abroad since the start of his record-breaking third term in office in March 2023. At the time, Xi told Mr. Putin that a change was coming that “hasn’t happened in 100 years.”
Dorothy Li is a reporter for The Epoch Times, covering China's politics, international relationships, security, and society. Contact Dorothy at [email protected].