Chinese President Xi Jinping will touch down in Moscow today for a three-day visit to Russia, to include a guest of honour appearance at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum.
At the forum Mr Xi will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The two are expected to sign two political communiques, one of which will emphasise warming ties between the two countries, while the other will declare a joint resolution to address rising “strategic challenges” such as the US-China trade war and the US sanctions regime on Moscow.
Beijing and Moscow have grown closer in recent years, particularly regarding in trade and investment interests. Bilateral trade between the two reached $108 billion in 2018, marking a 25% increase on the previous year. This growth is expected to continue in the coming years—driven mostly by energy and engineering equipment—and has been exacerbated by Washington’s actions; indeed, Russian soybean exports to China almost doubled last year due to the trade war.
Politically, a formal alliance between the two is implausible, but their growing cooperation will undoubtedly be a concern to Washington. Considering China and Russia’s international clout and alignment on sensitive issues to the US—like North Korea and Venezuela—greater political coordination could allow them to more effectively undermine US interests.
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Alex is a senior analyst in the Current Developments team with a primary focus on the Americas. He also serves as an editor on The Daily Brief.