China and Russia discussed Indo-Pacific security during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Moscow visit. The US shared actionable intelligence during the Arunachal Pradesh incursion, according to a report. Honduras switched diplomatic ties to Beijing, ending diplomatic relations with Taipei. Chinascope tracks Xi’s diplomatic dance—and much more.
China over the week
International media widely reported on Xi’s state visit to Moscow over the past week. In their second face-to-face summit on 21 March, Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a series of agreements. The two key agreements include the Joint Statement on Deepening the Comprehensive Strategic Cooperative Partnership for the New Era and the Pre-2030 Development Plan on Priorities in China-Russia Economic Cooperation.
The agreement on deepening strategic ties between the two countries had some interesting points criticising the US’s Indo-Pacific Strategy.
“The two sides pointed out that the US adheres to the Cold War mentality and pursues the ‘Indo-Pacific Strategy’, which has a negative impact on peace and stability in the region. China and Russia are committed to building an equal, open, and inclusive Asia-Pacific security system that does not target third countries, so as to maintain regional peace, stability, and prosperity,” said the statement.
The joint statement also expressed concerns about AUKUS, the trilateral security agreement on nuclear-powered submarines between the US, UK and Australia.
“The two sides expressed serious concern about the consequences and risks to regional strategic stability of the establishment of the ‘Trilateral Security Partnership’ (AUKUS) by the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia and related nuclear-powered submarine cooperation programs,” said the joint statement.
The China-Russia agreement pointed to India. It mentioned strengthening their collaboration through the RIC mechanism (Russia, India, and China) and BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). Beijing and Moscow want to sway India out of the US’s ambit by appealing to its history of non-alignment. We may witness outreach to India by both the countries to seek greater influence over New Delhi and temper the latter’s ties with Washington.
During the Moscow summit, the two sides signed bilateral cooperation documents in agriculture, forestry, basic scientific and technological research, market regulation, and the media.
The summit resulted in 14 other agreements between the two sides, from soybean to atomic energy. Alexander Gabuev argues these agreements are ‘pretty thin’ as most agenda points are incremental updates to past agreements. The two examples for why these agreements aren’t groundbreaking is the mention of a framework for meetings between Chinese and Russian leaders, which has existed since 1997, and the agreement on Russia building a nuclear power plant in China is already under works.
Experts have tried to assess the outcome of Xi’s visit to Moscow by closely examining the joint statements. But the visit hasn’t resulted in any significant breakthrough in bringing peace to Ukraine as it was discussed when Xi started his visit.
Meanwhile, European Union’s Josep Borrell has claimed that Xi’s visit helped reduce the risk of nuclear war in Ukraine, according to Financial Times.
“One important thing is this visit reduces the risk of nuclear war and they [the Chinese] have made it very, very clear,” said Borrell.
He didn’t clarify how he had come to that conclusion, and the assessment may have been his reading of the events.
“They are not engaged militarily and there is no sign that they want to engage militarily,” he added. A few other EU leaders also believe that China wants to preserve the current international order and wants to broker peace in Ukraine.
But unlike what Borrell has claimed, Xi’s parting message to Putin sent a different message altogether.
“A change is coming that hasn’t happened in 100 years. And we are driving this change together,” Xi said.
The ‘change’ Xi mentioned tells us how he wants to bring tremendous change to the international order by tipping the balance in Beijing’s favour.
Though Putin’s word is hard to believe nowadays, he has denied any type of military alliance with China.
“We are not creating any military alliance with China,” said Putin in a televised interview, “Everything is transparent, there is nothing secret.”
If there is a topic that makes the Taiwanese public hyper-emotional then it’s losing official diplomatic allies.
On 25 March, Honduras ended the 82-year-long history of diplomatic ties with Taipei. As Beijing continues its campaign to sever Taipei’s all diplomatic ties, Taiwan is now left with official diplomatic relations with 13 countries.
Taiwan’s foreign minister Joseph Wu has called out Honduras’ demand for billions in financial aid as ‘bribery’, and blamed Beijing for poaching Honduras to switch ties by offering billions in aid.
According to a report by Focus Taiwan, Wu said he received a letter from Honduran Foreign Minister Eduardo Enrique Reina on 13 March asking for $350 million for a hydroelectric dam and US$90 million for a hospital, which had been doubled from an initial $45 million without explanation.
Taipei has blamed Beijing for luring its diplomatic allies away as the country has lost many diplomatic allies since President Tsai Ing-wen took office in 2016.
Meanwhile, a tweet by Chinese foreign ministry official Hua Chunying saying “182vs13” has gone viral on Chinese search engine Baidu and social media platform Weibo. With Honduras added to the list, Beijing’s new official count of diplomatic allies is now 182.
Also read: No imminent threat of China invading Taiwan, says senior US official
China in world news
The intelligence sharing between the US and India on China’s activities at the border has been reported multiple times. But for this time, we witnessed the India-US actionable intelligence sharing on display.
The US had shared intelligence with India, which helped the Indian Army to thwart the military incursion in Arunachal Pradesh last year, according to a report by Paul Shinkman on US News. In December 2022, the Indian Army had revealed about the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) attempt to occupy the peaks in the Yangtse area of Arunachal Pradesh.
“They were waiting. And that’s because the US had given India everything to be fully prepared for this,” said a source quoted by Shinkman.
The intelligence on the movement of PLA in Arunachal Pradesh was shared under the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA), which was signed between US and India in October 2020.
Also read: New barrel, extended range — India & US explore joint development of M777 howitzer variant
Must read this week
US and China wage war beneath the waves – over internet cables – Joe Brock
Tracing Nepal’s cultural history in Beijing – Raunab Singh Khatri and Aneka Rebecaca Rajbhandari
Holograms – Sowmiya Ashok
Tawang: The town living in the shadow of India-China war – Raghvendra Rao
An anxious Asia arms for a war it hopes to prevent – Damien Cave and Chang Lee
Xi and Putin have the most consequential undeclared alliance in the world – Graham Allison
The author is a columnist and a freelance journalist. He was previously a China media journalist at the BBC World Service. He is currently a MOFA Taiwan Fellow based in Taipei and tweets @aadilbrar. Views are personal.
(Edited by Ratan Priya)