China and Russia want to move even closer together economically
The U.S. has criticized China for announcing increased cooperation with Russia. "China claims to be neutral, but its behavior makes clear that it is still invested in close ties with Russia," a U.S. State Department spokesman said Wednesday. "Nations that side with (Russian President) Vladimir Putin will inevitably find themselves on the wrong side of history."
Putin had spoken on the phone Wednesday with Chinese leader Xi Jinping. During the talks, they agreed to strengthen their cooperation in the face of "unlawful sanctions imposed by the West," according to the Kremlin. Xi pledged support to Putin on issues related to Russia's "sovereignty and security," according to Chinese state media
Moscow said cooperation should be strengthened "in view of the global economic situation, which has been complicated by the unlawful sanctions imposed by the West." Areas to be affected include energy, finance, industry and transportation. Putin and Xi also discussed "the development of military relations," the Kremlin said.
The Chinese leader, in turn, praised the "good development dynamics" of the two countries' relations since the beginning of the year "in the face of global turbulence and changes," according to state broadcaster CCTV. Beijing, he said, is ready to intensify cooperation with Moscow with the aim of achieving a "fairer and more reasonable" international order.
It was the second phone call between the two leaders since Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24. China has so far refused to condemn Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine. Instead, Beijing criticized sanctions imposed by Western countries on Moscow as well as Western arms supplies to Ukraine.
"More than three months after Russia's brutal invasion began, China still stands with Russia," the U.S. State Department spokesman now said. "It is still spreading Russia's propaganda around the world. It still protects Russia in international organizations and shirks its responsibilities as a permanent member of the UN Security Council. And it still denies Russian atrocities in Ukraine, suggesting they were staged."
Beijing and Moscow had strengthened their political, military and economic cooperation in recent years to counterbalance what they see as the dominant global position of the United States. During Putin's visit to China to meet Xi on the occasion of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, both leaders had stressed the "friendship" between the two countries in early February.
China is Russia's most important trading partner. Trade volume between the two countries reached $147 billion (about 141.4 billion euros) in 2021, according to Chinese customs, up more than 30 percent since 2019.
Image by Gerd Altmann