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US global order set to be challenged as China's Xi Jinping returns to the international stage with Putin.


Since China's Xi Jinping last traveled abroad almost a year ago, China has become more and more isolated within the US-led international system. This week, he finally makes an appearance alongside Vladimir Putin of Russia to present his idea of a workable substitute.

This week, Xi and Putin are anticipated to speak in person for the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine, demonstrating Beijing's view of the relationship as essential to fending off the US. 

(via shutterstock)


It will take place on the fringes of a security forum organized by China that will bring together nations like Iran and India on Thursday and Friday in Uzbekistan. The forum's goal is to hasten the emergence of a multipolar world. 

Prior to that, on Wednesday, Xi will make an appearance in Kazakhstan, where he initially unveiled the trade and infrastructure initiative that would become known as the Belt and Road initiative nine years ago. Since then, that foreign policy initiative has come to the attention of the US and its Group of Seven allies, who in June revealed intentions to raise $600 billion in funding to give developing nations an alternative to Chinese funding. 

Both visits will support Xi's dream of a world in which China can advance its interests without worrying about US economic or military pressure. At the twice-decadental party congress taking place next month, where he is presumed to secure a third term as head of the second-largest economy in the world, the Chinese leader will expound on that agenda. 

 According to Trey McArver, co-founder of research firm Trivium China, "Xi Jinping is trying to reorient global affairs in a direction that de-centers Western institutions and promotes groupings and institutions that are more favorable to China's interests and worldview." He continued, "It sends a very clear signal that China continues to tilt toward the side of Russia in that conflict" with Xi's meeting with Putin. 

For both Xi and Putin, who made a "no limits" friendship declaration just before Russia invaded Ukraine in February, the stakes are rising.
In recent days, while Xi has come under pressure to take tougher action to stop Taiwan from improving relations with the US and its allies, Putin has witnessed Ukraine repel Russian forces and retake vast tracts of land.  

Leading Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi said the two nations should cooperate to "promote the development of the international order in a more just and reasonable direction" after meeting with departing Russian Ambassador Andrey Denisov on Monday.

Iikka Korhonen, head of research at the Bank of Finland Institute for Economies in Transition, argued that China has not stepped up to provide Russia with weapons or cutting-edge electronics during the conflict.
There are restrictions on what these so-called allies are willing to do because they are conscious of not clearly violating these actions. 

At an economic conference last week in the Russian port city of Vladivostok, Putin attacked US-led democracies. Also present were Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the leader of Myanmar's authorized coup.
Putin claimed that Western nations were attempting to maintain the outdated global order that benefited them and compel everyone to adhere to the infamous "rules" that they had created.

Similar opinions will probably be voiced at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting.The group, which will meet on September 15 and 16 in Samarkand, in southeast Uzbekistan, is responsible for 25% of the world's GDP and 42% of its population.  

Economic ties within the group are essential, even though the SCO is more symbolic than practical. Russia is a source of cheap energy for members like India as global inflation soars.

Despite US sanctions imposed after the war, China and Moscow have improved their trade relations. According to IMF data, Russia's exports to China increased by almost 50% to $40.8 billion in the first five months of the year. Large increases in oil and gas are part of that.

Prior to the Group of 20 summit in Bali in November, Xi can return to the international stage in a comfortable setting during his trips to Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. According to Steve Tsang, director of the China Institute at SOAS University of London, Xi is prioritizing interaction with "friends and partners" rather than making the G-20 summit his first international trip since the Covid lockdown.

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