This Week’s Historic China-Russia Summit

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Russian President Vladimir Putin flew to Beijing this week to meet with Chinese Leader Xi Jinping in what was expected to be a perfunctory meeting between the two leaders of the Global South. Most analysts did not expect this meeting to be much more than part of the newly re-elected Putin’s world tour, a perfunctory greeting to Russia’s most important ally.

We were wrong.

This meeting proved to be one of historic consequence—one that will change the world as we know it. It cemented the relationship between the two largest countries worldwide, establishing close diplomatic, trade, and military relationships between these two superpowers.

From the Chinese perspective, these newly fashioned Agreements will rank in significance with the American-Chinese pact from the 1970s. In that Agreement, US President Richard Nixon and Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai established the relationship that would be the foundation of the world’s most significant trade pact. It established China as the world’s manufacturing hub and set the United States economy upon a half-century of inexpensive goods and declining inflation.

That relationship, if not entirely over, is undoubtedly threatened, as China now has secured Russia, and likely the rest of the BRICS Nations, as new customers for its massive commercial production (US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s plaintiff cry to China not to “overproduce” notwithstanding).

However, this Agreement between China and Russia was NOT fundamentally economic. Instead, it was a geopolitical agreement that would shake the very foundation of the “collective West” and the “Rules Based Order” put in place near the end of World War II

The Old Global Order Is Superseded

During the first months of 1945, the current order of nations was established. First, the founding Agreement of the United Nations was agreed to and signed by 50 of the 51 national delegations on June 26. Then, on August 1, the three principal allies in World War II, Great Britain, the USSR, and America, signed the Potsdam Agreement (more specifically, the Protocol of the Proceedings), which dealt with the post-war management of Germany. This Agreement superseded several other interim agreements and formally established a “Rules Based World Order.”

The Global Order has functioned ever since upon those agreements, which were made nearly 80 years ago. Pay particular attention to the fact that the two signatories to this week’s Agreement were not present back then. China was not present at Potsdam, and the Russian Federation was subsumed under the old USSR and would not become an independent nation for the next 47 years.

This week was the formal announcement of Russia, China, and, by extension, the Global South that the old framework is over. The world in which the United States performed the role of “indispensable nation” (to use Madeleine Albright’s term) has fractured. The United States will no longer set the global direction. It is inconceivable, for instance, that the United States could once again unite an “Assembly of the Willing” as George HW Bush brought 42 nations together in the 1990-91 invasion of Iraq in “Operation Desert Storm.”

The American Hegemony is over.

In his opening statement, President Xi presented the five pillars of the new China-Russia relationship, noting that these could become the foundation of a new multilateral world.

“China and Russia have served as role models by showing others ways of building state-to-state ties of a new kind and working together as two major neighboring powers.”

President Xi then outlined his five principles of building state-to-state ties.

The First Principle is mutual respect and support on matters of “core interests” for both sides.
The second principle promotes a “win-win” approach to establishing mutually beneficial cooperation.
Xi is speaking here chiefly about trade relationships.

We can see that these principles have already been implemented between these two countries. In closing remarks, President Putin noted that 90% of the trade between Russia and China is in local currency. In other words, the old SWIFT Transaction System (which utilized the US Dollar as currency) has already been supplanted.

The third principle deals with maintaining our centuries-old friendly ties and passing on this friendship from generation to generation.

China and Russia will extend their mutual humanitarian and cultural pack until 2030 to bring the Chinese and Russian people closer together.

The fourth point is that we must act in the spirit of strategic cooperation to set various visions of global governance on the right track.

Xi speaks of utilizing the existing framework of Global Governance, especially the United Nations, but setting it on “the right track.” We expect an expanded role for some prominent BRICS countries, such as India and perhaps Iran, in the United Nations. Xi is looking to blunt the dominant position of the World War II allies of the United States and Britain.

The fifth principle involves promoting a political settlement for hotspots in the interest of truth and justice. Today’s world is still plagued by the Cold War mentality. Aspirations to secure unilateral hegemony, bloc-based confrontation, and power politics directly threaten peace and security for all countries around the world.

The Fifth Principle is aimed directly at the United States. The reference to the “Cold War” is particularly telling. It can only be the US that Xi is addressing as the other Cold War opponent, the USSR, no longer exists. It is Xi’s appeal for diplomatic rather than military resolution to state-on-state conflicts.

At a time when America finds itself embroiled in not one but two proxy wars, Ukraine and Gaza, this Agreement between Russia and China ought to be seen as a new path to a peaceful multi-polar world.

For the first time in over thirty years, the United States has found itself with peer-level challengers—challengers who, at this point, are offering peace, not war. It would be in our best interest, as well as the world’s, to accept their invitation to diplomatic engagement. The initiative is firmly with America. Their only requirement is that we accept these nations as equals.


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