The meeting between Russian president Vladimir Putin and Chinese president Xi Jinping earlier this week should serve as a wake-up call for the Biden administration, an expert told the Washington Free Beacon.
Putin and Xi spent three days in Moscow plotting what both countries have hailed as a "no limits partnership" and a diplomatic course meant to cement their economic and military ties. The two leaders discussed trade, which is on pace to reach an all-time high of nearly $200 billion this year, as well as plans to build more nuclear plants. Regional experts say this spells trouble for the United States as it grapples with China’s rising economic dominance and attempts to push back a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
"When Xi and Putin talk about their ‘no-limits partnership,’ they mean it," Kelley Currie, a former State Department official, told the Free Beacon. "At some point, we need to start actually taking these guys at their word that they are besties, and act accordingly."
While Putin and Xi "are different flavors of authoritarian," both dictators "share an intense hostility to the United States and our way of life. We can’t protect the United States without recognizing that and acting accordingly," Currie said.
In a public toast broadcast on state-controlled television, the leaders raised a glass to President Joe Biden "for bringing us together"—a sign the leaders see weakness in the Biden administration and will move to exploit it as they cement their economic and military ties.
Xi described Putin as his "dear friend" during his meeting with the dictator and went on to offer a stark warning to the West: "Change is coming that hasn't happened in 100 years. And we are driving this change together."
The leaders also committed to deepen their economic cooperation, which serves as a way to insulate both regimes from Western sanctions. Trade between Russia and China grew 30 percent in 2022, hitting a record of $185 billion, according to Putin. This year, Russia-China trade could exceed $200 billion, which Putin called a "symbolic threshold."
This trade alliance, Putin added, "allows us to protect mutual trade from the influence of third countries and negative trends on global currency markets."
Russia also committed to build several nuclear plants in China—which it is also doing in Iran with permission from the Biden administration.
China has floated the possibility of securing a peace agreement between Russia and Ukraine to end the ongoing war. This would come on the heels of a recent China-brokered peace agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Xi and Putin also took time to praise one another and publicly tout their mutual admiration.
"For 10 years, President Putin and I have maintained close communication; we are in contact on strategic matters and promote productive strategic interaction between the two countries," Xi said during a joint press conference.
Increased Chinese involvement in Russia's war on Ukraine could have serious consequences for the liberal world order, Anna Borshchevskaya, a Russia expert and senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy said.
"For years analysts had dismissed the Russia-China relationship because it was not coming into what we would understand in the West as an alliance, but the summit suggests that Russia and China are countries are working together," Borshchevskaya said. "Chinese weapons may not yet be on the Ukrainian battlefield, but rather than argue about terminology, the West should see Russia and China as one strategic set, which will likely present a greater challenge to the liberal world order than these two would have separately."
The bromance between the two leaders generated concern among top China hawks in Congress.
Rep. Mike Gallagher (R., Wis.), chair of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, warned that Xi and Putin are spearheading a new Cold War.
"Xi and Putin just doubled down on their no limits partnership, and while they claimed to oppose a ‘cold war mentality,’ their actions make clear they are already engaged in a new Cold War against the United States, our allies, and our values," Gallagher said.
Update March 24, 8:23 a.m.: This post has been updated with comment from senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy Anna Borshchevskaya.