China Warns of Another Crisis 'Detonating' as Xi, Putin Strengthen Ties

An editorial in a Chinese-state newspaper warned of an emergent world crisis between Eastern and Western nations following a high-profile meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this week.

The column, published in the Global Times early on Friday, depicts the meeting of the two world powers as the next step in the nations' efforts to form a hedge against the West—in particular, the countries aligned with the United Nations and NATO—as the coalition's members continue to inject money and weapons into Ukraine.

Though NATO has repeatedly denied any desire to escalate tensions between its members and Russia, Putin has long cited concerns with its presence in Eastern Europe as a pretext for the country's invasion of Ukraine. The conflict, the newspaper wrote, was "the consequence of the failure of the Western military and political bloc in handling equal relations with a regional power properly," and demonstrated the need for a counterbalance on the world stage in order to stabilize relations between the East and West.

"The future of this world may well be tragic— a complete resolution of the Russia-Ukraine conflict is nowhere in sight, and potential crises elsewhere will be detonated," the editorial read. "This is something that many countries, including China, do not want to see and are trying to avoid."

Putin Xinping
Above, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping pose during a meeting in Beijing on February 4. An editorial in a Chinese-state newspaper warned of an emergent world crisis between Eastern and Western nations following a high-profile meeting between Xi and Putin earlier this week. Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik / AFP

The Russian and Chinese governments have had an extensive economic, military, and political relationship dating back to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. That relationship has appeared to solidify in recent years.

Following a joint appearance between its leaders at the opening of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, the two countries released a statement condemning the expansion of NATO and reaffirming its partnership with one another. Ahead of their leaders' meeting Thursday, the Russian and Chinese navies held a joint naval exercise in the Pacific, marking the second-such exercise between the two nations in less than a year.

And early in the conflict, Chinese-state media—including the Global Times—amplified unfounded claims of Russia's discovery of biological weapons labs in Ukraine, claims Russia used to justify its invasion of the neighboring country in late February.

Chinese officials have all but endorsed Russia's efforts in Ukraine, saying last week that the country "understands" Russian concerns about NATO's potential to expand near Russia's borders.

The United States, to-date, has found no clear evidence that China has been financially supporting the Russian war effort as it continues to grapple with a bevy of economic sanctions from the West. In recent weeks, federal officials say the country has now turned to Iran and North Korea for financial help, a fact China has raised no objections to.

Even then, the U.S. State Department on Thursday has expressed concern with the deepening ties between the two countries.

"When it comes to Russia and the PRC, it's true that they share a vision for the world." Ned Price, a State Department spokesperson, said during his weekly press briefing on Thursday. "They share a vision for the world that is starkly at odds with the vision that's at the center of the international system, the vision that has been at the center of the international system for the past eight decades. It is the vision that is at the heart of the UN system and the UN Charter, for that matter."

However, there have been some indications even countries friendly to Russia are beginning to have some apprehension about the war.

Media reports on Thursday indicated Xi had begun to express concerns about Russia's involvement in Ukraine, a fact Putin himself acknowledged to the media shortly after the meeting. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose country is a longtime ally, publicly expressed to the Russian leader in a meeting in Uzbekistan on Friday, that now "is not a time for war," underscoring regional concerns with Russia's efforts in Ukraine.

Newsweek has reached out to Putin's presidential press office for comment.