Putin and Xi Jinping stress their shared perception of threat the US poses to their interests

Two leaders say Washington is using pretext of joint exercises with allies to deploy land-based, intermediate-range missile systems in the Asia-Pacific region

Xi Jinping greeted Vladimir Putin with full military honours in Tiananmen Square and parted from him with a hug at Zhongnanhai, the Communist Party leadership compound in Beijing. Two years ago Xi described the friendship between China and Russia as one without limits but Putin’s visit this week highlighted how important it is for both of them.

Russia has become more dependent on China since Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 and the American and European economic sanctions that followed it. And although Beijing is officially neutral on the war and has not supplied military aid, it has offered diplomatic as well as economic support to Moscow.

Their 7,000-word joint statement included commitments to deeper co-operation in trade, finance and energy, and Putin’s entourage was top-heavy with economic advisers. But the most significant passages in the statement were about security and their shared perception of the threat the United States poses to their interests.

They accused the US of attempting to “undermine strategic stability in order to maintain its absolute military superiority” by building a global missile defence system and deploying missile defence systems around the world and in space. They said Washington was using the pretext of joint exercises with allies to deploy land-based, intermediate-range missile systems in the Asia-Pacific region.


“The two sides express the strongest condemnation of the above-mentioned measures that seriously undermine regional stability and pose a direct security threat to China and Russia, and will strengthen co-ordination and co-operation to respond to the US so-called ‘dual containment’ policy towards China and Russia, which is unconstructive and hostile,” they said.

European leaders hoped that Xi would use Putin’s visit to put pressure on the Russian leader to end the war in Ukraine. But when Xi raised the idea of a truce for the duration of the Olympic Games, Putin rejected it and he later suggested that Kyiv was only interested in talking about peace now because it was faring badly on the battlefield.

Russia is not invited to next month’s peace conference in Switzerland, and China has not yet confirmed that it will attend. In their statement Xi and Putin said that to resolve the Ukraine crisis it was necessary to address its root causes.

Putin repeated during his visit that a peace deal initialled by both sides in Istanbul in April 2022 but abandoned by Volodymyr Zelenskiy under western pressure could form the basis of a new agreement. If the Swiss peace conference nudges Zelenskiy into shifting from his current negotiating position, Xi could yet play a role in helping Putin to reciprocate.