Unfortunately for President Trump, it looks like his ‘great friend’ President Xi has a new “best friend”, at least according to a questionable English translation of his remarks from a meeting in Moscow this week.
During Xi’s three-day trip to Moscow to mark the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries, he and Putin shared many warm words as they took in a show at the Bolshoi while discussing “international issues” and even “literature and sport.”
The SCMP recounted some of Xi’s more florid remarks in a story warning that Washington risk isolating itself at its own peril.
“We have communicated extensively on the broadest range of issues, including international situations, bilateral ties and domestic governance,” Xi said.
“We have also talked about literature, art and sport…President Putin is the foreign colleague that I have interacted with most extensively. He is my best friend and I greatly treasure our friendship.”
Xi told press in Moscow that the two leaders could “bring our relations to a new era of greater development” while both countries watch their relations with the US unravel.
In an interview with Russian media published on Wednesday, Xi said that Beijing and Moscow would “bring our relations to a new era of greater development at a higher level” and push the “comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination” into a new era.
“We have the confidence and capability to bring our relations to a new era of greater development at a higher level, based on our experience and achievements of the past 70 years,” Xi was quoted as saying.
Xi even called out the US for its aggressive stance toward Iran, warning that China and Russia held similar positions on the issue. Xi added that China and Russia both hope the US – and everyone involved – can “remain reasonable and restrained” and “reduce tensions.”
“With the US recently imposing extreme pressure and unilateral sanctions on Iran, tensions over the nuclear issue in Iran and even the entire Middle East have become worrying,” he said. “China and Russia share a highly unified view on the Iran nuclear issue, and we both hope that all parties involved can remain reasonable and restrained, and strengthen dialogue and consultation to reduce tensions.”
Pointing out the obvious, one analyst from a Chinese university quoted by the SCMP said that Xi’s visit with Putin was designed to give China more leverage against the US.
Shi Yinhong, an adviser to the State Council and a US specialist at Renmin University in Beijing, said Xi’s visit was set to give China more leverage in its competition with the US.
“China’s announcement that its ties with Russia have entered a new era, its emphasis on Xi’s personal ties with Putin, and calling out the US on Iran are all set against the background of unprecedented tensions between the US and China, and the lasting confrontation between Russia and the US,” Shi said.
“There is a major strategic need to strengthen the ties between Russia and China…and China will continue to team up with Russia against the US on international issues.”
Li Lifan, an international relations professor at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, added that China and Russia have similar interests…and similar problems in terms of the difficulties being created for them by the US (China has the trade war, Russia has the sanctions).
And that statement about the friendship between Putin and Xi was clearly meant as a signal to Trump: Keep this up, and the relationship between the US and China won’t be reparable.
“The statement about personal ties between Xi and Putin is a signal to [US President] Donald Trump. He [Trump] has often said that he’s good friends with President Xi. But the Chinese side has only ever only brought up Xi’s ties with Putin,” Li said.
Notably, there was no word on whether Xi would consider meeting with Trump later this month in Osaka.