Meanwhile in Uzbekistan: Xi clarifies that China-Russia, in that order, now rules world

by WorldTribune Staff, September 16, 2022

Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Thursday insisted the foreign policy “tandem” of Russia and China is a force for good on the global stage.

“We jointly speak out for the formation of a fair, democratic and multipolar world order, based on international law and the central role of the UN, and not on some rules that someone has invented and tries to impose on others, without even explaining what that is,” Putin said in what was seen as a thinly veiled reference to the U.S. as he met with Chinese supreme leader Xi Jinping at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit on Sept. 15 in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

Vladimir Putin, left, and Xi Jinping, right, met in Samarkand, Uzbekistan around a coffin-shaped centerpiece on Thursday. / Sputnik / Via AFP-JIJI

Xi, meanwhile, made it clear just who is leading the way in the “multipolar” world pecking order.

In a world undergoing “colossal changes,” China is “ready with our Russian colleagues to show the example of a responsible world power and play a leading role to bring such a fast-changing world onto a trajectory of sustainable and positive development,” Xi said.

“The meeting underlined how keen Putin and Xi are to forge a new world order pivoting away from what they consider Western hegemony,” Joanna Lillis wrote for Erasianet. “But it also demonstrated how Putin’s war in Ukraine might put their ‘no-limits’ partnership to the test. It is no longer a partnership of equals.”

The Xi-Putin meeting on Thursday was their first in-person meeting since Russia invaded Ukraine. Xi’s visits to Kazakhstan on Wednesday and Uzbekistan on Thursday also marked his first foreign trip since the outbreak of the Covid pandemic.

Xi, who just prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had pledged a friendship with “no limits,” conspicuously withheld any public support for Putin’s war as the two met on Thursday.

Instead, in a statement issued after the meeting, China said it was “willing to work with Russia to demonstrate the responsibility of a major country, play a leading role and inject stability into a turbulent world.”

To analysts who study the between-the-lines messaging of the communist Chinese government’s public remarks, it sounded like an implicit rebuke.

Sergey Radchenko, a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, said China’s statement appeared to telegraph “a reproach to the Russians, that they’re not acting like a great power, that they are creating instability.”

Shi Yinhong, a longtime professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing, said it was “the most prudent or most low-key statement in years on Xi’s part on the strategic relationship between the two countries.”

For his part, Putin somewhat cryptically acknowledged that he does not have the full backing of Xi, saying that China had “questions and concerns” about Russia’s war in Ukraine.

“We highly value the balanced position of our Chinese friends in connection with the Ukraine crisis,” Putin told Xi, according to a readout of the meeting published by the Kremlin. “We understand your questions and concerns on this account. During today’s meeting we will, of course, also explain our position on this matter, although we have previously talked about this.”

Putin, in comments that may have been intended to please Xi, also slammed “provocations by the U.S. and their satellites in the Taiwan Strait.”

During a visit to Kazakhstan on Wednesday, Xi had appeared to deliver a shot across the bow to Moscow, warning that China would not tolerate any encroachment on its sovereignty or territorial integrity.

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