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February 22, 2023

Biden Creates the China-Russia Partnership

Weak U.S. foreign policy is driving our two geopolitical rivals to a closer alliance.

President Joe Biden has a poor reputation on foreign policy. This can be specifically traced back to his disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021 and his bumbling comment about not taking action against Russia if it only committed a “minor incursion” into Ukraine.

It’s not an understatement to say that tensions between the U.S., China, and Russia are especially heightened at the moment. As the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine approaches, all three countries have been saber-rattling.

First, there was the discovery and shooting down of the Chinese spy balloon. Then, Biden made a surprise visit to Ukraine on Monday and pledged another half-billion dollars in aid. According to The Daily Wire: “Since Russia’s invasion on February 24, 2022, the U.S. has pledged nearly $200 billion in assistance to Ukraine, including weapons, ammunition, long-range missiles, and tanks. Meanwhile, Chinese companies have aided Russia’s military with navigation equipment, jamming technology, and fighter jet parts.”

In response to Biden’s actions, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin on Tuesday said in his State of the Nation address that Russia was no longer honoring the START Treaty unless and until the United States deescalates.

This treaty, which was recreated in 2010 under President Barack Obama, limits the number of nuclear warheads that both Russia and the U.S. can have and also permits each country to inspect the other’s weapons sites to ensure the treaty is being upheld. Announcing this suspension of the treaty is not entirely a surprise, since Russia had been resisting inspections by the U.S. for at least a month before Putin’s announcement. Abiding by treaties has never been a Russian — or Soviet — strong point.

Interestingly enough, top Chinese diplomat Wang Yi was also visiting Moscow this week to visit with Putin right on the heels of a contentious meeting with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken over the weekend at the Munich Security Conference. Wang called the U.S.‘s response to shooting down the spy balloon “absurd and hysterical.”

As tensions mount between the three nuclear powers, questions are rising once again about China and President Xi Jinping’s “no limits” relationship with Russia. Putin has been struggling in his war, in no small part thanks to the weapons and financial aid that the U.S. has provided to Ukraine. Xi may feel like it’s time to intervene in a more palpable way.

American officials have warned that China could be considering providing lethal arms to Russia. Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said this action would be a “red line.” (Though if this red line is like that of the Obama administration à la Syria, there will be no enforcement when that red line is crossed.)

Blinken said on Sunday that the White House has “been watching this very closely. The concern that we have now is based on information we have that they’re considering providing lethal support, and we’ve made very clear to them that that would cause a serious problem for us and in our relationship.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin responded to these allegations by saying: “It is the U.S. side, not the Chinese side, that supplies a steady stream of weapons to the battlefield. The U.S. side is not qualified to lecture China, and we would never accept the US dictating or even coercing pressure on Sino-Russian relations.”

This claim that China hasn’t been supplying Russia with weapons may be true, as far as we know. However, Russia has had weapons provided to it by Iran, and Iran and Chinese relations have gotten more cozy. So cozy that Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi visited China a week ago, marking the first time in 20 years an Iranian president has done so.

Xi also has not been shy about supporting Putin economically. China has been helping feed the Russian war machine by buying Russian gas and providing for many of the goods that Western countries have sanctioned in an attempt to bring Russia into line and end the war.

The proxy war in Ukraine may turn into an earnest war of superpowers if China does provide weapons to Russia, and that would be a disaster for all three countries.

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