Both Russia and China see the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit as a major indicator of unity and defiance in the face of threats coming from the US-led political West.
Written by Drago Bosnic, independent geopolitical and military analyst
On Thursday, September 15, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping held a much anticipated bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Uzbekistan’s Samarkand. The two presidents concluded that the unipolar world order in which the US is the dominant power is coming to an end. Russia’s leader called it “ugly” and pointed to the rejection of the US hegemony by the vast majority of countries in his introductory remarks. The leaders of the (Eur)Asian giants also discussed the geopolitical circumstances in Ukraine and Taiwan, with President Vladimir Putin telling Xi Jinping that the political West’s “attempts to create a unipolar world have recently taken on an absolutely ugly shape and are absolutely unacceptable to the vast majority of nations on the planet,” according to a state media translation.
Russia’s leader praised the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (which includes Russia, China, India and Pakistan, among others) as a counterbalance of constructive and creative cooperation, despite its relatively recent establishment (founded in 2001). Putin emphasized the fact that most of the planet’s population is seeking to resist the US unipolar world order, and further stated that the SCO “is now the biggest regional organization in the world, uniting a vast geographic space and about half of our planet’s population.”
The Russian President then reiterated to his Chinese counterpart that he “highly appreciates the balanced position of our Chinese friends in connection with the Ukrainian crisis.” And indeed, the People’s Republic of China has consistently stressed its concerns and focused attention on highlighting Russia’s legitimate national security concerns in response to NATO’s crawling encroachment on its western borders. In Putin’s starting remarks, he called Xi Jinping his dear and longtime friend and told him:
“We highly value the balanced position of our Chinese friends regarding the Ukrainian crisis, we understand your questions and concerns on this matter, and during today’s meeting we will of course clarify all of these in detail.”
Hours after the SCO meeting held in the city of Samarkand started, Russian and Chinese navies conducted joint patrols and military exercises in the Pacific Ocean. Mentioning China’s most sensitive security and geopolitical challenge, which involves direct US meddling in Beijing’s internal affairs, Putin also addressed the issue of Taiwan, telling Xi Jinping:
“We firmly adhere to the One China principle in practice. We condemn the provocations of the United States and its satellites in the Taiwan Strait.”
The two leaders didn’t only focus on geopolitical challenges. They also pledged to deepen and enhance economic cooperation between the two superpowers. Trade exchange between Russia and China has already hit a new record high in 2022, as Russia’s leader stressed, at a rate of 25% within the first seven months of this year. More importantly, despite the political West’s attempts to hurt the Russian energy sector through sanctions and empty threats of price caps, China and India have all but nullified this.
Financial Times recently reported on this as well, stating: “But customers in China and India, the world’s most populous countries, kept buying Russian oil and other commodities such as coal and fertilizer.” The report noted that China, “already an important buyer of Russian crude before the war, bought 2mn barrels a day in May, an increase of 0.2-0.4mn per day compared with January and February.”
The Russian President once again reiterated the importance of deeper economic ties between the two countries and told China’s leader:
“I am convinced that by the end of the year we will reach new record levels of trade and that in the near future, as agreed, annual trade turnover will increase to $200 billion or more.”
For his part, Xi Jinping firmly agreed with his Russian counterpart that the US-led unipolar world order is finally unraveling, and further explained that “in the face of the colossal changes taking place on a global scale in our time which are unprecedented in history, we are ready, together with our Russian colleagues, to show an example of a responsible world power and to play a leading role in bringing such a rapidly changing world onto a trajectory of sustainable and positive development.”
Both Russia and China see the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit as a major indicator of unity and defiance in the face of threats coming from the US-led political West. Although the organization is not exactly a counterpart to NATO or the EU (strictly legally speaking), it does provide a functioning security, economic and geopolitical framework for many countries across the vast Eurasian landmass, especially those who have suffered as a result of Western imperialism. In this regard, the meeting, which also saw Iran sign a Memorandum of Obligations to become a permanent member, was quite successful. In addition, this was Xi Jinping’s first foreign trip in almost three years, since the COVID-19 pandemic started, which further solidifies the importance of the summit.
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