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Why Putin’s Russia and Xi’s China Are Cozy Bedfellows

(Photo by Sergei BOBYLYOV/TASS Host Photo Agency/AFP)

Why is there this close bond? Why does China do nothing in response to President Putin’s bloodlust?”

Russia and China are two birds of a feather, a particular variety with markedly scarlet plumage. And they like to flock together. These countries, which already had healthy relations before the military moves made in February, are two of the globe’s greatest strongholds of Communist thinking.

Two autocratic superpowers whose societies are rife with Bolshevik mentality are advancing their own agenda across the Eastern Hemisphere, and the people who fall subject to their authority pay the price.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, the rhythm of the world has been thrown for a loop. Tensions mount, and the future is, as always, uncertain.

There have been questions as to the stability of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)’s ongoing partnership with Russian cosmonauts. Earlier on, there was concern over the safety of the stock market and how the war might impact investments. The conflict still managed to indirectly increase gas prices here in the United States.

Another major question that keeps people’s attention is whether or not—or to what extent—China might aid Russia in this war.

This is a valid question given that the two nations are allies. Neither nation has joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and they have both opposed the expansion of the freedom-defending alliance.

While the Chinese government has not given any noticeable aid to the Kremlin, it has not imposed sanctions. Furthermore, Chinese representatives did not sign the United Nations document criticizing Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

Former United States Defense Department official Drew Thompson, as quoted in an Associated Press report, stated that China likely would not sell weaponry to its ally due to the international repercussions that might trigger. 

In the same analysis, however, Thompson suggested surveillance information and intelligence could be shared between China and Russia. Presumably, this kind of cooperation would be more discreet.

In March, China’s foreign minister Wang Yi said that Russia was his country’s “most important strategic partner.” Meanwhile, China also indicates that it would like to see an end to the war in Ukraine, achieved through diplomatic efforts. Yet, it has done very little to realize that apparent hope. China’s passive observation of the war sends its own message.

Whether China will offer aid (monetary, military, surveillance, or otherwise) remains to be seen. But the fact that President Vladimir Putin’s Russia and President Xi Jinping’s China are cozy bedfellows is already clear. 

Why is there this close bond? Why does China do nothing in response to President Putin’s bloodlust? And why do both nations frown upon the eastern expansion of NATO?

It has something to do with the countries’ similar ideologies. China is officially run by the Communist Party of China. And, though the Russian regime currently in power is not vocally Communistic, President Putin’s early career included being a member of the Bolshevik KGB. It is ingrained in how he deals with issues of dissent. 

Additionally, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, which admires the glorious bygone era of Soviet Russia, remains the nation’s second-largest political party.

China’s numerous human rights violations, as well as its tendency to keep its citizens shrouded in a web of government-manipulated media, speak to the effects of its ideology. Much the same is Russia’s modus operandi as expressed on the world stage, especially as seen with its attacks on Ukraine.

China, for instance, maltreats the Uighurs, a Muslim ethnic group living in Xinjiang, where an extensive surveillance system peers into the lives of this oppressed minority (not unlike the all-intrusive and omnipresent “telescreens” from George Orwell’s 1984).

China—with, I am sure, nothing but the best of intentions—runs indoctrination camps for the same Uighurs so they may learn how the Party wants them to live. And so they can be sterilized, sexually abused, and put to work. As a result, China has been accused of genocide.

Recently, the United Nations General Assembly chose to suspend Russia from its Human Rights Council on the basis of Russia’s “abuses of human rights” during the invasion of Ukraine. Reports are emerging that Russian soldiers are raping and senselessly killing Ukrainians. President Joe Biden has referred to Russia’s actions as constituting “genocide.”

Neither China nor Russia cares much for others’ freedom or human dignity. Their citizens and those who fall subject to their jurisdiction (whether it be pre-existing or taken by force) find safety only in a sort of nationalistic pride devoid of personal liberty.

It is almost as if Russia and China are building up their own anti-NATO, a cooperative of national powers that stands in opposition to the “peaceful resolution of disputes” that NATO tries to stand by. Instead, these two countries find their unity in the uniformity of Communism and in their autocratic expression of government.

So, for the time being, the administrations of Presidents Putin and Xi remain snug bedfellows. They are carrying on the hammer and sickle of their forebears. Under their watch continue the displaced families, the violations, and the fatalities. They are warm and cozy and have no plans to change in the future. Like two birds of a feather, they stick together.

John Tuttle is a freelance writer and has contributed to a number of publications, including Tablet and The Hill.

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