President Biden on Friday said the strength of the Russia-China alliance has been “vastly exaggerated” and that he hasn’t seen any evidence of significant economic and military ties between Beijing and Moscow.
Speaking in Ottawa at a joint press conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Mr. Biden expressed skepticism that the China-Russia partnership will be fruitful for either nation.
“I don’t take China lightly. I don’t take Russia lightly. But I think we’ve vastly exaggerated. I’ve been hearing now for the past months that China is going to provide significant weapons to Russia. They haven’t yet,” Mr. Biden said.
Earlier this week, Chinese President Xi had two days of meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow where the two presented a united front on global issues, including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Mr. Biden said the U.S. and its Western allies have formed a stronger bond than the one between Moscow and Beijing.
“We have significantly extended our alliances. I haven’t seen that happen with China or Russia or anybody else in the world,” Mr. Biden said. “We are the ones expanding alliances. The opposition is not.”
The president said he’s met with 80% of the world’s leaders and has struck alliances with several of the world’s superpowers, including Australia and South Korea.
Joint animosity toward the U.S. has forged a tight relationship between China and Russia. Western sanctions imposed on Moscow because of the war in Ukraine have made China its biggest trade partner and its economic lifeline.
Still, Mr. Biden said the two countries weren’t significant trade partners before the Ukraine invasion and he hasn’t seen much of an uptick since then.
“What commitment can they make economically?” Mr. Biden said of China. “Their trade has increased compared to what?”
Russia became China’s top oil supplier in January, making energy a key cornerstone in the two nations’ trade relationship. This week, Mr. Putin pledged to deliver at least 98 billion cubic meters of liquified gas annually to China by 2030. That is six times higher than what they sold to China last year, but it is less than what Russia delivered to Europe before the sanctions.
Mr. Xi has not fully endorsed the war in Ukraine but having the West focused on Russia and dedicating resources to the conflict is a benefit to China. It has made Russia a weaker power and taken Western attention off China’s global aggression.
• Jeff Mordock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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