China has reaffirmed its commitment to building positive bilateral relations with Russia. This recent announcement comes at a time when both countries have drawn the ire of Western governments amid heightened political tensions.
According to Russian news agency TASS, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian stated on Jan. 24 that “Chinese-Russian relations are well-developed and stable and any attempts to challenge them are doomed to fail.”
Zhao went on to assert that both countries have been dealing with a sustained campaign of negative Western press in the lead-up to the Beijing Winter Olympics. This has ostensibly been carried out in order to cast doubt on the strength of the bilateral relationship.
The statement was a direct response to a recent article on the China-Russia relationship by Bloomberg. The piece speculated on a possible back-door deal between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping. The former was purported to have agreed to refrain from a Russian invasion of Ukraine so as not to “overshadow” the Olympic Games.
As stated by Chinese state media outlet CGTN, this type of Western reporting is meant to “smear the relationship between China and Russia” in order to “interfere with the Beijing Winter Olympic Games.”
“China is confident it will present a successful event to the whole world and guarantees national leaders a safe and successful visit to Beijing,” said Zhao.
Both China and Russia have been dealing with an increase in negative media attention as the two increase their saber-rattling in politically contentious regions that they geographically border. NATO-Russia tensions over Ukraine continue to draw fears over a potential hot-conflict on Europe’s eastern border. Simultaneously, Beijing has recently flown 39 military aircraft into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone. Both of these actions represent the potential for extraterritorial aggression in regions that rely upon Western protection for their continued autonomous existence.
Moscow’s actions are feared by many in the West to be in preparation for military operations to seize territory in eastern Ukraine. The air operations by Beijing are part of a wider—though escalating—campaign of intimidation against the regime in Taiwan. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) intends to eventually reassert its control over the island. Russia and China consider these respective regions to be within their spheres of influence, and interpret Western support of illegitimate governments as a direct threat to national security.
Meanwhile, any statement that alludes to the risks associated with the two countries’ brinkmanship is met with condemnation and derision by Chinese and Russian spokespeople.
This past weekend, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss incited anger from Chinese officials when she condemned the country’s “economic coercive policies.”
“China and Russia have spotted an ideological vacuum and they’re rushing to fill it. They are emboldened in a way we haven’t seen since the Cold War,” said Truss during a speech at the Lowy Institute, a think tank in Sydney, Australia.
A spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in London responded with accusations of “disinformation” and “parroting U.S. rhetoric.”
Truss has also recently claimed that the UK government has proof of Kremlin plans for a coup in Kiev.
The Russian Foreign Ministry (RFM) dismissed these claims as “disinformation” that is increasing the risk of miscalculation and subsequent violent conflict in Ukraine.
The Bloomberg article additionally drew a response from the Russian government. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova labeled it “an information black op” being carried out by the United States.
Russian and Chinese purported “fake-news” grievances have increased in the lead-up to the Winter Olympics. Earlier last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov took direct aim at Western media reporting.
Responding to CNN reporting on the likelihood of Russian aggression in Ukraine, Lavrov made a tongue-in-cheek remark about the need for the U.S. State Department to fact-check the outlet. He then reasserted Moscow’s commitment to halting NATO expansion eastward. The multilateral approach to resolving alliance issues was established under the auspices of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe), and agreed to by all sides, including the United States. The principle, according to Lavrov, is simple: “Not to enhance the security of anyone at the expense of the security of others.”
Moscow and Beijing both portray themselves as the victim of unconstrained Western expansionism. This diverts attention away from their own reckless and escalatory behavior, as well as authoritarian governance styles at home. The approaching Olympic Games will cast an international spotlight on the CCP. That is why Xi is so desperate to ban and censor all expressions of protest against the oppressive regime. Russia also finds itself increasingly beyond the pale of respectable nations as it threatens extraterritorial aggression in Ukraine.
By binding closer to the authoritarian Putin regime in Moscow in the run-up to the games, Xi can ensure that there is at least one reliable ally who will support the CCP official narrative.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.