Russia Plays Down Strategic Ties With CCP

June 17, 2021 Updated: June 17, 2021

News Analysis

President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin met at the Geneva summit on June 16. In response, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has issued a series of articles, stressing that China and Russia have a strong and solid relationship. Russia’s narrative, however, seems to be different from that of the CCP. It only emphasizes economic ties with Beijing, while neglecting a China-Russia strategic partnership.

The strategic partnership with Russia is widely seen as likely to be the CCP’s only remaining alliance that could be used to contain the United States and Western countries.

Nevertheless, Russia’s ambassador to China, Andrey Denisov, categorically denied an “alliance” between the two countries in an interview with the CCP mouthpiece Global Times published on June 11.

CCP Reports Russia’s Attitude Differently

The CCP seems most concerned about Russia’s strategic tilt toward the United States in the triangular relationship, which can be seen through the Party media’s recent reports.

At the International Economic Forum video conference in St. Petersburg on June 4, journalists from around the world asked questions related to economic issues. However, He Ping, president and editor-in-chief of state-run Xinhua News Agency, asked Putin how he views the China-Russia relationship.

Putin said relations between the two countries are very good, and went on to say that the bilateral trade last year reached $100 billion, the highest ever. Xinhua News Agency and other CCP media widely reported this response as, “The China-Russia relationship is at its best in history.”

On June 14, Chinese state media, when reporting on the U.S. investment ban on Chinese military-related companies, said Putin’s response to the question set China’s mind at rest.

Days before, on June 10, Global Times reported on an interview with Andrey Denisov, the Russian Ambassador to China.

Denisov said he does not expect any “unrealistic results” from the Russia-U.S. summit, but Chinese state media reported that Denisov said China-Russia relations would not change because of a shift in U.S. policy toward Russia. Chinese state media also reported the ambassador as saying: if there is any mention of the CCP in the Russia-U.S. meeting, the Russian side would immediately inform Beijing of all the details and discuss with it.

The report was widely reprinted by the CCP’s official media, but in the recorded interview, which Global Times published on June 11, Denisov said, “As we all know, Russia and China are not in any alliance relationship.” This quote did not appear in any news reports.

Russia Has Great Economic Ambitions

Putin has never hidden his need for economic development. The country’s economy has been under increasing pressure since 2014, when it seized Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and was hit by economic sanctions imposed by the United States and other Western countries.

In response to a question from Xinhua on China-Russia relations at the economic forum, Putin directly addressed economic relations and trade, without emphasizing China-Russia relations.

On the same day, the CCP foreign minister Wang Yi held a telephone conference with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov. Wang stressed the need for “all-around” China-Russia relations and cooperation, but Lavrov focused on “strengthening anti-epidemic cooperation” and “promoting economic recovery.” Back in early June 2019, China and Russia signed a joint statement on the comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination, but Russia seldom mentions it lately.

Infiltrating Russia Through the Russian Communist Party

According to a May 17 report by Voice Of America, the Russian Communist Party receives money and other benefits from the CCP, acts as its agent in Russia, and promotes it on Russia’s main state media.

Senior members of the Russian Communist Party frequently travel to China and give speeches in return for payment, said an open letter to Russia’s justice minister. Gennady Zyuganov, the general secretary of the Russian Communist Party, published three books in China. One of his grandchildren is studying Chinese and living in China. Giving speeches and publishing books are seen as covert ways to receive bribes, the letter said.