МОСКВА, 08 февраля 2022, Институт РУССТРАТ.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s trip to Beijing for a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (and for the opening of the Olympic Games, of course) was written about long before this event took place. Many expectations were based on the belief that Beijing should solve some important global problems, possibly turning points for the world. And so important that it was stated that many other events in the current reality are circling around this trip.
Now that Putin has already returned from his trip, many commentators are wondering if this is really all they were waiting for? Where is what was promised? Where is the grand event? And some even try to promote the idea that «the mountain gave birth to a mouse» and feel deceived in expectations. In fact, it is obvious that an explanation is needed of what really happened in Beijing and how it will affect the future of the planet.
Long before Putin’s visit, after the virtual Putin-Xi summit at the end of December 2021, the Chinese Foreign Ministry stated that an important political agreement should be signed in Beijing. And in China, it is not customary to announce any agreements before they are completed.
From the point of view of dry statistics, during Putin’s visit to Beijing, there was a meeting with President Xi Jinping, one joint political statement and 16 treaties and agreements in various fields. Moreover, all these components of the results of the visit should be considered separately.
Firstly, the meeting. Its peculiarity is that Xi Jinping on February 4, 2022 was not only the head of China, but also the host of the Olympic Games, which opened on the same day as Putin’s visit. Dozens of heads of state and government gathered in Beijing, and the diplomatic protocol required a personal meeting with each guest of the Olympics.
In this context, President Xi is given extremely limited time for official meetings during this busy day. The Xi-Putin meeting was supposed to last an hour. And it lasted three hours, which indicates the special importance of the subject of negotiations at an extremely overloaded moment of the Chinese leader’s activity.
Secondly, a package of agreements was signed during the visit. According to official information, there are 16 of them, and they affect various areas from phytosanitary control to the supply of hydrocarbons. At the same time, we note two points.
The plan of consultations of the foreign ministries of the two countries has been agreed upon during the year, which means that there will be constant active work between the foreign ministries of the two countries in a large number of areas, the schedule of these consultations is tight, and the work will be large-scale. Apparently, by the next visit of Xi Jinping to Russia, the leaders will have a weighty bundle of new agreements in various fields on the table. Those agreements that will be worked out by the foreign ministries of the states.
The second thing that is significant is the signing of agreements on the supply of hydrocarbons through the territories of third countries, which means not only the commercial interest of the two countries and the contribution to China’s energy security, but also joint work in the spaces of neighbouring states — Mongolia and Kazakhstan, as transit states for these projects. This means that the agreements are, in fact, an element of the formation of a new geopolitical space.
Finally, the most important thing following the results of the summit is the signing of an extremely important joint statement, which should be called the «Beijing declaration». Here, however, many Russian commentators have a desire to downplay the significance of the statement, exposing it as something demagogic, unstable and lacking clear binding norms.
This is a reflection of the Russian mentality, which does not take «words» too seriously and does not attach importance to them. But with regard to China, it is a completely different matter. There, tradition does not allow the word to be taken lightly. It happened from the traditions of Lao Tzu Taoism, which derived the structure of the universe and the «concept of names» of Confucius from elementary trigrams.
For China, every word has a deep meaning and great significance. Including the word spoken in the framework of the Beijing statement. So this document is not just significant, but fundamental. China is very, very sensitive to political declarations.
Let’s recall the last plenum of the CCP. At it, a document was recommended for adoption at the next congress, which would have practically no meaning for people who perceive declarations as “talked a bit, then dispersed». However, in China, much attention was paid to this document as a turning point in the development of the country. This is a resolution on the great achievements and historical experience of the Chinese Communist Party for 100 years since its creation. And it should determine the shape of China in the future.
So, if we compare the documents, then the Beijing «Joint Statement of the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China on International Relations Entering a New Era and Global Sustainable Development» occupies about the same place in foreign policy discourse as the resolution on great achievements in China’s domestic policy.
The main thing is that the parties, firstly, believe that the world is entering a new era and actually proclaim it, putting a watershed between the past and the future, and, secondly, talk together about «global sustainable development». That is, they consider it possible for two countries — Russia and China — to define the contours of global development. A common global development for the whole planet.
And this is fundamentally important. In fact, this statement marks the principles of a new world order of international relations, and in this regard is commensurate in its historical significance with Vladimir Putin’s Munich speech. And this is not an exaggeration.
Meaningfully, this agreement has a huge potential for development and actually affects an extremely wide range of aspects of international politics. Let’s focus on just a few.
The first thing the statement says is the establishment of the fact that a new era of global development has begun (and this fundamental thesis is already being fully analysed by the Chinese media and the expert community). The parties determine the parameters of this era. «Humanity is entering a new era of rapid development and large-scale transformations.
Such processes and phenomena as multipolarity, economic globalisation, informatisation of society, cultural diversity, transformation of the system of global governance and world order are developing, the interconnectedness and interdependence of states is increasing, a tendency to redistribute the balance of world forces is forming, the world community’s demand for leadership in the interests of peaceful and progressive development is growing.»
This, if translated from the language of particularistic declarative to human, is a statement that a «New World Order» is beginning to take shape in the world. The parties (China and Russia) actually challenge the former world leader (represented by the United States) and express their readiness to compete with it. That is, not to hide and agree, but to come out and fight.
The statement says that «some forces representing a minority (emphasis — author) on the world stage continue to defend unilateral approaches to solving international problems and resort to power politics, practice interference in the internal affairs of other states, harming their legitimate rights and interests, provoke contradictions, disagreements and confrontation, hinder the development and progress of mankind (emphasis — author), which causes rejection by the international community.»
If we discard diplomacy, then these forces are the United States and American satellites, which the parties to the statement attributed, for a moment, to the minority on the world stage. That is, the United States is defined not just as an opponent of both Russia and China, but also as an enemy of development, a minority and a subject hindering the development of humanity.
This is not just a statement. This is «I’m coming for you» performed by Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping. And colleagues from the RUSSTRAT Institute have already said this here.
The statement says that «the parties are united in understanding that democracy is a universal value, not a privilege of individual states, its promotion and protection is a common task of the entire world community”. This means that both Russia and China do not agree with the American understanding of democracy and do not agree that only what the United States designates as democracy is the ultimate truth.
The parties declare that «only its people have the right to judge whether a state is democratic”, which in fact means the antithesis to the American maxim that the United States is always on the side of democracy.
It is noted that «the attempts of individual states to impose their «democratic standards» on other countries, to appropriate to themselves the monopoly right to assess the level of compliance with the criteria of democracy, to draw dividing lines along ideological lines, including through the creation of narrow-format blocs and situational alliances, actually represent an example of trampling on democracy and deviation from its spirit and true values”.
Here we see a direct reference to the United States and Britain, because this clearly hints at the «narrow-format» AUKUS bloc and the situational alliance of Ukraine-Britain-Poland, with their definition as opponents of democratic values.
The statement of this thesis is the establishment of the readiness to create a community of democracies. The text defines it as follows: «The parties are ready to work together with all interested partners in the interests of promoting genuine democracy.» And this community of democracies will be built thanks to the efforts of Russia and China, and countries striving for democracy as understood by the Beijing statement can count on a response from Russia and China.
This means that in the very near future we are waiting for responses from other states that will declare their readiness to follow the principles of the Beijing declaration and, most likely, after some time, the international summit of democracies for development. Probably, Argentina can already be attributed to one of these countries, the statements of whose president, Alberto Fernandez, fully fit into this paradigm.
Within the framework of the statement, the parties actually agreed to create a platform for interfacing all formats of international interaction in the Eurasian space, up to the creation of a Large Eurasian Partnership based on the interface of the EAEU and the Belt and Road. This is the main discourse of the foreign policy activity of the two countries – the formation of the infrastructure of Eurasian processes in the spirit of the Beijing statement.
The provisions of the Beijing declaration on security issues are extremely important. «No state can and should ensure its security in isolation from the security of the whole world and at the expense of the security of other states. The international community should take an active part in global governance in the interests of ensuring universal, integrated, indivisible and sustainable security.» This is the very principle of indivisible security, which is the core of Russian demands in negotiations with the United States and NATO.
That is, China actually declares that it adheres to the Russian interpretation of «indivisible security», and hence Russian demands in the context of the ongoing negotiations. At the same time, both sides further oppose the positions of NATO and AUKUS on the issue of security and talk about a joint struggle against the advance of such blocs (against the advance of NATO to the east and the formation of the Anglo-Australian-American bloc as such).
Further, the statement states the fact of the creation of an alliance of Russia and China for the joint solution of key tasks. It is indicated that «the parties confirm their firm mutual support in protecting their fundamental interests, state sovereignty and territorial integrity, and oppose interference by external forces in their internal affairs”.
From the perspective of current events, this means that China supports all of Russia’s steps aimed at preserving territorial integrity (including Crimea) and security, and Russia supports the territorial integrity of China (including Taiwan), which is further explicitly stated.
It is important to note in the agreement a fragment that would previously have been called an «anti-revolutionary pact”. «Russia and China oppose the actions of external forces to undermine security and stability in the common neighbouring regions, intend to resist the interference of external forces under any pretext in the internal affairs of sovereign countries, oppose «colour revolutions» and will increase cooperation in the aforementioned areas.»
This means that events similar to what happened in Kazakhstan earlier this year will be the subject of a joint decision of the two countries. That is, Russia and China offer all countries protection from «colour revolutions» and interference by third countries. And this is not just a challenge, but a readiness for action, including force.
The final part of the Beijing declaration is devoted to certain areas of international cooperation between the two states. It is indicated that the development of the UN, SCO, BRICS+, APEC, ASEAN, WTO formats are a priority for both countries. What is very important is the desire of the parties to give new, expanded functions to the SCO anti-terrorist centre.
The statement defines it as follows: «The parties consider it important to consistently implement agreements on improving mechanisms for countering challenges and threats to the security of SCO member states and, in the context of carrying out this task, advocate expanding the functionality of the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure.»
This means that a document on the creation of a single SCO anti-terrorist centre with additional functions may be adopted at the next SCO summit. And this will become a significant challenge to international terrorism.
In addition, the statement actually refers to the format of the «new world order«, namely, the formation of a polycentric world order based on universally recognised principles of international law, multilateralism, equal, joint, indivisible, comprehensive and sustainable security”. In fact, this means that Russia’s demands on the United States and NATO are not a whim, but part of the rules of the game of the future in the understanding of Russia and China.
Well, and finally, the main thing in the statement. The parties «confirm that the Russian-Chinese interstate relations of a new type surpass the military-political alliances of the Cold War. Friendship between the two states has no borders, there are no forbidden zones in cooperation, the strengthening of bilateral strategic cooperation is not directed against third countries, is not affected by the changing international environment and situational changes in third countries.»
That is, the obligations of Russia and China exceed not only the current obligations of NATO, but also the obligations of NATO and the Warsaw Pact during the Cold War. And this, translating from the diplomatic language, means the readiness of full-scale participation in the defence of joint interests.
It is especially important to note that there are no borders, that is, the territory of action is not only the territories of two countries, or the zones of Europe, Central Asia and the Asia-Pacific region, but also Africa, Latin America, Oceania, etc. The absence of forbidden zones means joint actions in all areas – from collective security, to joint fight against crime, information protection and other important areas.
And, finally, it is said that the position of the parties is not subject to the influence of the volatile international environment. And this means that the attempts of the United States to make a split in Russian-Chinese relations have been given a clear answer about the futility of such attempts. And this now means a lot, because it states the existence of the most important thing in the international arena between the countries – trust.