Can Vladimir Putin’s aggression push China’s Xi Jinping closer to Joe Biden?

President Joe Biden exactly doesn’t need another autocrat who feels isolated and out of place. But that’s just where China’s leader Xi Jinping could be right now, with Russia virtually cut off from the rest of the world and China wondering if it could be the next international nation. follow or not.

In addition, there is also an opportunity for the United States and China to improve their relationship amid the uncertainties.

The exact positions of Biden and Mr. Xi will be much clearer on Friday, when the two leaders speak for the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine. With Russia facing stiff international sanctions for its aggressive behavior, Mr. Xi may be wary of siding with Russia too directly – and in fact, possibly winning some points with the United States and the global community for staying out of the war.

At the same time, Mr. Xi may see an opportunity to strengthen China’s relationship with Russia and secure an ally should China decide to take over Taiwan.

Either way, there needs to be clarity. But the fact of where China stands is a potentially positive sign.

The CIA believes Mr. Xi was “unsettled” by the wretchedness of Russia’s war in Ukraine and concerned about his current ties to Russia and Putin, according to a CIA analysis shared with lawmakers. on Capitol Hill last week.

But it’s not just China that may be interested in separating itself from Russia and its growing outcast status. According to CIA Director Bill Burns, Xi was also concerned that his own intelligence agencies did not tell him exactly how the Russian invasion of Ukraine would unfold. Xi’s trepidation is offering Biden a unique opportunity to recalibrate relations between Washington and Beijing.

China’s President Xi Jinping attends the opening session of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China March 4, 2022.

REUTERS / Carlos Garcia Rawlins

The news from the CIA couldn’t have come at a better time. Putin is said to have asked China for military assistance to Russia when it invaded Ukraine – and while in previous years China may have jumped at the chance to work with Putin, Mr. ready to hang out for Russia right now.

While a full US-China renaissance is unlikely, the Biden administration could soon find itself dealing with a version of Mr. Xi more relaxed and ready to reassess relations. partner — at a time when he doubts his team’s ability to make sound judgments on foreign affairs.

Hopes have begun to flare through the corridors of Capitol Hill that China may want to reshape its alliances.

“I certainly think there is a possibility that we could reframe the relationship,” Rep. Ruben Gallego, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, told The Daily Beast on Thursday.

Just days after Russia and China established an “unlimited” partnership, Russia invaded Ukraine. But China’s lack of intelligence about the Russian invasion, or lack of communication from Russia about Ukraine, could lead China on the wrong track.

According to Holden Triplett, former FBI director in Beijing and former director of the White House National Security Council, on the China side, there could be a lot of soul searching going on right now.

Mr. Xi could “lick his own wounds in the sense that he was duped by Putin and his services didn’t inform him of that… ‘actually, hey, they’re actually planning for it. a much bigger operation than we’ve been told,'” Triplett told The Daily Beast.

Representative Eric Swalwell, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, also has some hope that China might bring down and reassess its own military ambitions.

“I hope that the Chinese will readjust their plans and intentions towards Taiwan, and they will see not only the reputational stigma that Russia is suffering, but also the economic costs. that they have to pay, which they have traveled from the world’s first country to date,” Swalwell said, adding that Russia is now “in the state of Venezuela and Iran.”

“It happens in 10 days — so if you want to know how to lose your position in 10 days… do what Russia did,” he said.


U.S. President Joe Biden participates in a virtual meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in the Roosevelt Room of the White House November 15, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Alex Wong / Getty

Swalwell told The Daily Beast that he thinks the international response to Russia’s invasion will be a sign to China that “the world will respond if you use military force to take over the people of the world.” free”.

American officials have some evidence that Mr. Xi may be interested in a gradual warming to the west due to Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

“What we’re seeing right now is an unprecedented level of interest and focus on Asia,” Biden’s Asia chief executive officer, Kurt Campbell, said last month at an event hosted by the Marshall Fund of United States organization.

Hu Wei, a scholar with ties to the State Council, also agreed, recently saying there is a “one or two week” period during which China could decide to embrace the West.

Despite the “unlimited” relationship between China and Russia, Mr. Xi has begun calling for “maximum restraint” in Ukraine, promoting “peaceful outcomes”.

Diplomatic channels have been boiling over the past few days in response to China’s new footstep. For starters, Biden’s National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan met with Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi in Rome for seven “tense” hours this week. And Biden’s discussion with Mr. Xi will be a huge opportunity.

But for all the optimism, Beijing will probably accept and help Russia. In recent weeks, China has offered a sort of tacit endorsement of Russia’s actions in Ukraine in a number of ways; it has opted out of sanctions against Russia, and it is clear that China has no qualms about accusing Putin of trying to take over a country.

Lawmakers are monitoring the situation closely, if not suspiciously.

“Russia and China have had many years of cooperation. Don’t forget they’ve got a history of this already,” said Congressman Gallego. “I don’t think they’re going to break all of a sudden.”

For now, Mr. Xi is likely to be very angry with Putin. But perhaps Beijing is not yet ready to decouple from Moscow, Representative Mike Gallagher (R-WI), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, told The Daily Beast.

“I just see no evidence that Mr. Xi will quit anytime soon… although what I am sure of is his disappointment. [with] Putin,” Gallagher said. “I just don’t see any pleas from the US to neutralize Xi [of] the notion that he wants to work with Russia to weaken, and ultimately destroy, the West as it is.”

Even CIA Director Bill Burns admits the partnership between China and Russia is not likely to “change anytime soon.”

During the Obama administration, the United States and China worked to reset. They reached an agreement that China would not hack to steal intellectual property from US businesses, and trade between China and the US continued to grow. But any momentum the two nations build is short-lived.

Roy Kamphausen, former director of China policy at the Office of the Secretary of Defense and an adviser to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, cautions against believing that Xi will magically cooperate with the United States only. because Russia is now a neutral country.

“I wonder if Mr. Xi has learned from that very thing: that there is no need to be so forward-thinking,” says Kamphausen.

The signs coming from China are, in fact, mixed.

“We do have serious concerns about China’s alignment with Russia at this time, and the National Security Advisor has spoken directly about those concerns and their potential impacts and consequences. cover of certain actions,” a senior administration official said on a call this week, referring to Sullivan’s meeting with Yang.


A video screen shows French President Emmanuel Macron (bottom left), German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (bottom right) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (up) attending a videoconference discussing the crisis Ukraine, at the Elysee Palace in Paris, on March 8, 2022.

Image illustration by Elizabeth Brockway / The Daily Beast / BENOIT TESSIER / POOL / AFP via Getty

The senior official declined to comment on whether the Biden administration saw openness from Beijing in providing the requested aid to Moscow.

On Thursday, Gallager told The Daily Beast that he thinks the Biden administration should declassify any information the US government has about China providing aid to Russia, “if that starts to happen.”

If that were to happen, spreading information about China’s actions would allow the United States to “embarrass China for openly trying to position itself as a pacifist, while behind the scenes in the first place.” support the massacre of Putin in Ukraine,” Gallagher added.

And yet, if China supports a proxy war in Ukraine, it could mark a drastic change in the world order, pulling China closer to Russia.

That move from China would be surprising. As Kamphausen, an expert on the People’s Liberation Army of China and US-China defense relations, told The Daily Beast, China may want to help Russia, “but I would be shocked if China actually provided supplying military equipment to Russia”.

“As the Biden administration has made clear,” Kamphausen continued, “it’s a whole other level. The costs associated with that will be huge for Beijing.”

However, there is a middle way of destruction for China. Mr. Xi may not be willing to provide military support, but sitting on the sidelines, tacitly supporting a Russian invasion, could force the US to act, especially if the US sees China weighing the consequences. of taking back Taiwan.

It’s a situation that can break either way. But the fact that the United States is somehow looking at the prospect of improved relations with China as a result of Russia’s actions is remarkable.

“China is definitely thinking about Taiwan,” said Kamphausen. “There are military lessons: On a tactical level, you can’t infiltrate somewhere unless your logistics and command and control are in good shape.” Can Vladimir Putin’s aggression push China’s Xi Jinping closer to Joe Biden?

Russell Falcon

Russell Falcon is a Interreviewed U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Russell Falcon joined Interreviewed in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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