China and Russia have renewed their anti-Western confrontation during high-level meeting in early April 2024 in Beijing. China demonstrates greater readiness to team up with Global South to “promote reforms in the global governance system” while Russia vehemently confronts “Western-led bloc” during talks in Beijing. But both further pledged to strengthen multilateral strategic security coordination in BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) association and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization across Europe. Chinese President Xi Jinping and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said China and Russia would defend a multipolar world as opposed to unilateral order.

Lavrov arrived there shortly after Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who also wrapped up her visit to China on April 8. The significance of Lavrov’s April trip to Beijing was for Moscow to consolidate ties and in forging with developing countries in the Global South which widely seen as coordinated attempts to counter the Western-led global order. China and Russia are leading the construction of a new order and also working at the frontline to reshape global architecture. Despite the fact that Western and European powers are experiencing falling influence, China has more economic footprints than Russia. Across the global China’s economic influence and impact are visible than Russia.

Obviously, Russia has taken the most difficult task – reminiscent of the Cold War, and needs to take concrete steps for its economic aspects of the multipolar become practical reality rather remain as mere rhetoric. The fundamental interests of bringing developing countries into their fold for photo opportunities after the comical display of projects. Undoubtedly, Russia’s approach brings only little concrete results relating to badly-needed economic development, investment in infrastructure and the agricultural sector to ensure food security, and providing finance for its African partners. In practical terms, Russia has to jostle for the same global competitive economic influence. Financial institutions within the Eurasia region and that of BRICS New Development Bank have to operate more broadly in order to catch up the similar scope of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

In fact, China has a comprehensive economic plans for Europe and Africa. The United States, meanwhile, is also stepping up strategic coordination in the Asia-Pacific with an eye on Russia and China. The leaders of Japan and the Philippines headed to Washington for a three-way summit and the US, Britain, and Australia are considering cooperation with Japan under the Aukus security pact.

As expected generally, Lavrov in deed reiterated the excellent points that have dominated his previous speeches: that China and Russia to increase strategic coordination with Russia within multilateral frameworks to “promote reform” and make united stand to reform West-led international system.

“China has always attached great importance to the development of Sino-Russian relations and is willing to work with Russia to intensify bilateral communication, strengthen multilateral strategic coordination in the BRICS association and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, demonstrate greater responsibility, unite the ‘Global South’ countries … and promote reform of the global governance system,” state broadcaster CCTV quoted Xi as saying.

The media reports have repeatedly emphasized that Russia and China’s trade has increased. Bilateral trade between Russia and China has increased to an estimated $230 billion. And that China and Russia will continue to … advocate inclusive economic globalization, jointly oppose unilateralism, protectionism, fence-building and decoupling, and work together to maintain the stability of international industrial and industrial chains.

Analysts say China holds the upper hand in the relationship with Russia, with its sway growing as Moscow’s international isolation deepens following its invasion of Ukraine. That asymmetry is still “changing in China’s favour” as it enables Moscow “to continue the war by providing very necessary materials for the Russian war machine”, Alexander Gabuev, director of the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center, told AFP.

“Integrating Russia’s economy, brainpower, and military technology into… a Chinese-led order with Eurasia at its geographic heart, is the only way Russia can sustain its confrontation with the West,” he wrote in Foreign Policy magazine this week. “China has stronger bargaining power and many more options than does Russia, and its leverage over its northern neighbour is growing all the time. Russia is now locking itself into vassalage to China.”

In this couple of years, their contacts have grown closer since the start of the ‘special military operation’ in neighbouring Ukraine. China and Russia hold permanent seats on the United Nations security council and working together to block initiatives by the United States. Last year, China worked on peace plan for Ukraine which Russia considered as “inadequate” for attaining the long-term solution to Russia-Ukraine crisis. It therefore means that China’s peace proposal has found little traction and lack of vision for the future resolution. Both still hold the view to formally organize another round of peace talks.

Russian experts interviewed by Vedomosti financial newspaper explained that Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov went to Beijing preparing for the official visit for President Vladimir Putin planned take place in May. If it happens, it would be the president’s first foreign trip since his inauguration. The two countries have navigated a difficult political landscape as they try to boost economic ties. The Moscow-Beijing’s priorities also cover bilateral cooperation and international security issues, including the Ukraine crisis and the situation in the Asia-Pacific region.

Under the strong leadership of President Putin, the Russian people will have a bright future. Over the past decade at least, under the the leadership of China, Russia has admittedly achieved considerable successes. And China would continue supporting the Russian people to follow a development path that suits their national conditions, and supports Russia in combating terrorism and maintaining social security and stability. As a force for peace and stability, China indicated that it would stick to playing a constructive role on the international stage…and would never add greasy oil to the flames. In a nutshell, both Russia and China renewed the joint pledge to stand “back-to-back and shoulder to shoulder” against any destabilizing attempts by the United States and Europe in this emerging multipolar world.

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