Wednesday, May 18, 2022

China, Russia partner up against West at Olympics summit

China, Russia partner up against West at Olympics summit

BEIJING (Reuters) - China and Russia on the opening day of the Winter Olympics declared a "no limits" partnership, backing each other over standoffs on Ukraine and Taiwan with a promise to collaborate more against the West.

President Xi Jinping hosted President Vladimir Putin on Friday as the two nations said their relationship was superior to any Cold War era alliance and they would work together on space, climate change, artificial intelligence and control of the internet.

Beijing supported Russia's demand that Ukraine should not be admitted into NATO, as the Kremlin amasses 100,000 troops near its neighbour, while Moscow opposed any form of independence for Taiwan, as global powers jostle over their spheres of influence.

"Friendship between the two States has no limits, there are no 'forbidden' areas of cooperation," the two countries said in a joint statement.

The timing of their announcement was highly symbolic, at a China-hosted Olympics that the United States has subjected to a diplomatic boycott.

The agreement marked the most detailed and assertive statement of Russian and Chinese resolve to work together to build a new international order based on their view of human rights and democracy.

Putin used the occasion to trumpet a new gas deal with China worth an estimated $117.5 billion, promising to ramp up Russia's Far East exports.

The United States hit back, saying Xi should have used the meeting to push for lowering of tensions in Ukraine.

Such an approach is what the world expects from "responsible powers," the US State Department's top diplomat for East Asia Daniel Kritenbrink said.

"If Russia further invades Ukraine and China looks the other way, it suggests that China is willing to tolerate or tacitly support Russia’s efforts to coerce Ukraine."

Moscow denies it is planning an invasion of Ukraine.

Daniel Russel of the Asia Society think tank, who served as the US State Department's top diplomat for East Asia in the Obama administration, said Xi and Putin were "announcing their determination to stand together and to stand against the US and the West — ready to withstand sanctions and contest American global leadership".

While not formally allied, the two "are making common cause as a tactical matter to better defend their respective interests and their authoritarian systems from Western pressure", he said.

Mutual Support

The two countries have moved closer together as both have come under pressure from the West on human rights and other issues.