by Joel Gehrke
Foreign Affairs Reporter
February 05, 2022
China and Russia
have outlined a vision of international relations
anchored in their
reinforce each other in disputes with the United States and its
allies while cooperating on an array of economic and diplomatic
Xi Jinping and Russian President
issued a joint statement that forecast the,
of the global governance architecture and world order."
transformation would be marked by the progress of concepts and
initiatives that Moscow and Beijing conceived separately, often in
opposition to the U.S. and its Western allies, and now could develop
into an integrated challenge to American power.
propose or rather suggest is a new world order, isn't it?
They have not
left out a single policy issue," Stefanie Babst, former NATO
chief strategic policy analyst, explained to the Washington
addressee sits in the White House, with the main message being,
'F*** you. We are the future, and you are the past'."
George H.W. Bush
popularized the term "New World Order" in a Sept. 11, 1990,
appearance before a joint session of Congress, in the midst of the
first Gulf War:
Bush touted fading
Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev's denunciation of
Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait, a point
of unity between Washington and Moscow that Bush thought heralded a
new moment in international affairs.
longer can a dictator count on East-West confrontation to stymie
concerted United Nations action against aggression," he said.
"A new world
order can emerge....
A world where
the rule of law supplants the rule of the jungle. A world in
which nations recognize the shared responsibility for freedom
and justice. A world where the strong respect the rights of the
Putin and Xi made
an effort to occupy the rhetorical position held by Western leaders
who have touted the 'value' of
the United Nations, the World Trade
Organization, and other multilateral institutions collectively
But they pledged
allegiance to that order in terms that called attention to their
acrimonious relations with their respective neighbors.
intend to strongly uphold the outcomes of the Second World War
and the existing post-war world order, defend the authority of
the United Nations and justice in international relations,
resist attempts to deny, distort, and falsify the history of the
Second World War," the China-Russia joint statement says.
"In order to
prevent the recurrence of the tragedy of the world war, the
sides will strongly condemn actions aimed at denying the
responsibility for atrocities of Nazi aggressors, militarist
invaders, and their accomplices, besmirch and tarnish the honor
of the victorious countries," they continued.
That paragraph is
filled with pointed statements.
refer to that cataclysmic conflict as a triumph that rescued Eastern
Europe from Nazi German rule - "a noble and great mission of
liberation," as Putin put it last year - while contemporary Central
and Eastern European critics of Soviet rule are portrayed as
recall that the Chinese people,
"defeated the Japanese militarist
aggressors and fascism",
accuse Tokyo of trying "to revive the specter of militarism" in
the context of contemporary disputes.
The linking of such
disputes with their mutual affirmation of "the outcomes of the
Second World War" might signal their joint determination to recover
the clout in their own regions that they enjoyed after the defeat of
the Axis powers.
"The outcome of
World War II, depending on how you read it, was reasserting
Soviet-Russian hegemony over their sphere of influence in
about the Chinese victories over Japan in East Asia," U.S. Army
War College research professor Evan Ellis, a former member of
the State Department's policy planning staff, told the
"You could read
it [to mean that] reaffirming the outcome of World War II is
implicitly rolling back the 'New World Order'," that Bush
described in 1990.
included alignment on two simmering hot spots.
annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and destabilized the Donbas
That conflict has festered for years, with Putin recently
mobilizing Russian forces around Ukrainian borders while demanding
that NATO ban Ukraine and Georgia from joining and cut U.S. and
Western European military ties to Eastern European allies.
Xi endorsed Putin's
push for "binding security guarantees in Europe," while Putin
endorsed China's claim to sovereignty over Taiwan, a strategically
significant island democracy that the Chinese Communist Party has
China stand against attempts by external forces to undermine
security and stability in their common adjacent regions, intend
to counter interference by outside forces in the internal
affairs of sovereign countries under any pretext, oppose color
revolutions, and will increase cooperation in the aforementioned
areas," they said in the China-Russia statement.
Those areas include
a linking of Xi's vaunted
Belt and Road Initiative, an overseas
infrastructure investment program that Western officials deride as
predatory lending, with the Eurasian Economic Union that Moscow
hopes will lead to the economic integration of states that gained
independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
reaffirm their focus on building the Greater Eurasian
Partnership in parallel and in coordination with the Belt and
Road construction to foster the development of regional
associations as well as bilateral and multilateral integration
processes for the benefit of the peoples on the Eurasian
continent," Xi and Putin said.
suggests that Putin is more willing to align with Xi than Western
analysts generally have thought, although he may remain
uncomfortable with the imbalance of power between Moscow and
quite a number of issues, which are important for either Russia
or China, carefully crafted.
But we expected all this, didn't
we? What they cannot camouflage is they remain an uneven
couple," said Babst, the former NATO strategist.
contrast to China, Putin has put himself... in a corner. Both
cannot force other countries to 'love and follow' them, neither
with money nor guns.
Putin nor Xi understand the concept of soft power and