By Ramzy Baroud
The final exchange, caught on camera between visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping and his host and Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, sums up the current geopolitical conflict, still in its early stages, between the United States and its allies. in the West on the one hand, and Russia, China and their allies, on the other.
Xi was leaving the Kremlin after a three-day visit that can only be described as historic. “A change is coming that hasn’t happened in 100 years and we are driving this change together,” Xi said as he shook Putin’s hand.
“I agree,” Putin replied, taking Xi’s hand. “Please take care, my friend,” he said.
In no time, social media exploded by sharing that scene over and over again. Western corporate media analysts went into overdrive, trying to understand what these few words meant.
“Is that part of the change that is coming, that they will drive together?” Ian Williamson raised the issue in the Spectator. Although he did not offer a direct answer, he hinted at one: “It is a chilling prospect, and the west must be prepared for it.”
Of course, Xi’s statement was by design. It means that strong Sino-Russian ties, and possible future unity, are not the result of immediate geopolitical interests as a result of the war in Ukraine, or in response to US provocation in Taiwan. Even before the start of the war in Ukraine in February 2022, a lot of evidence showed that Russia and China’s goal was hardly temporary or impulsive. Indeed, it runs deep.
The discourse of the two countries has been defined by the language of pluralism for years, a discourse that was mainly motivated by the dissatisfaction of the two countries with US militarism from the Middle East to Southeast Asia; their frustration with Washington’s bullying tactics whenever disagreements arise, whether on trade or border issues; the punitive language; the ongoing threats; NATO military expansion and more.
A month before the war, I argued with my co-writer, Romana Rubeo, that both Russia and China might be at the beginning of some kind of unity. That conclusion was reached based on a simple discourse analysis of the official language that comes from the two capitals and the deepening of the relationship.
At the time, we wrote,
“Some sort of alliance is already being established between China and Russia. The fact that the Chinese people are taking this into account and supporting their government’s drive towards greater integration – political, economic and geostrategic – between Beijing and Moscow shows that the informal alliance is a long-term strategy for both nations and which could be formal.” .
Even then, like other analysts, we did not expect such a possibility to be realized so quickly. The Ukraine war, in itself, was not indicative that Moscow and Beijing will grow closer. Instead, Washington’s response, threatening and humiliating China, did most of the work. The visit of the then US Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, to Taiwan in August 2022 was a diplomatic disaster. It left Beijing with no choice but to increase and strengthen its ties with Russia, in the hope that the latter would strengthen its naval presence in the Sea of Japan. Indeed, this was the case.
But the “100 years” reference from Xi tells a much bigger geopolitical story than any of us expected. As Washington continues to pursue aggressive policies – with US President Joe Biden prioritizing Russia and his Republican adversaries prioritizing China as the main enemy of the US – the two Asian giants are now being forced to merge into a unit one unified political, with a common political discourse.
“We signed a statement on deepening the strategic partnership and bilateral ties entering a new era,” Xi said in his closing remarks.
This ‘unlimited friendship’ is now more possible than ever, because there is no ideological constraint or competition between either country. Moreover, they both want to end US global hegemony, not only in the Asia-Pacific region, but in Africa, the Middle East and, eventually, the world as well.
On the first day of Xi’s visit to Moscow, Russian President Putin issued a decree in which he wrote off the debts of African countries worth more than $20 billion. In addition, he promised that Russia “is ready to supply the entire amount shipped during the last period to African countries that especially require it, from Russia for free ..,” if Moscow decides “not to extending the (grain) market in sixty days. “.
For both countries, Africa is a major ally in the coming global conflict. The Middle East is also crucial. The latest agreement, which normalized ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia, is a world-shattering one, not only because it ends seven years of hostility and conflict, but because the arbiter was none other than the China itself. Beijing is now a peace broker in a Middle East dominated by years of failed US diplomacy.
What this means for the Palestinians remains to be seen, as too many variables are still at work. But for these global changes to serve Palestinian interests in any way, the current leadership, or the new leadership, would have to slowly break away from its dependence on western handouts and validation, and, with the support of allies Arabs and Africans, accepted. different political strategy.
The US government, however, continues to read the story entirely within the context of the Russia-Ukraine war. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken responded to Xi’s trip to Moscow by saying that “the world should not be misled by any tactical move by Russia, with the support of China or any other country, to freeze the war (in Ukraine) on their own terms. ” It is rather strange, but also telling that Washington, not Kyiv, did the complete rejection of the possible call for a ceasefire.
Xi’s visit, however, is truly historic from a geopolitical sense. It is comparable in scope and potential consequences to former US President Richard Nixon’s visit to Beijing, which contributed to the deterioration of ties between the Soviet Union and China under Chairman Mao Zedong.
The improved relations between China and the US back then helped Washington further expand its global dominance, and put the USSR on the defensive. The rest is history, one filled with geostrategic rivalry and divisions in Asia, hence, ultimately, the rise of the US as the uncontested power in that region.
Ambassador Nicholas Platt, then the Ambassador, described Nixon’s visit to Beijing as “the week that changed the world”. Judging that statement from an American-centric view of the world, Platt was, in fact, correct in his assessment. However, the world seems to be changing. Although it took 51 years for that reversal to happen, the consequences are likely to be earth-shattering, to say the least.
The regions long dominated by the US and its western allies, such as the Middle East and Africa, are processing all these changes and potential opportunities. If this geopolitical shift continues, the world will, once again, be divided into camps. Although it is too early to determine the winners and losers of this new configuration, with any certainty, a world dominated by the United States in the west will no longer be possible.
– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is “Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak out”. Dr is a Senior Non-Resident Research Fellow. Baroud at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). There is a website www.ramzybaroud.net