When China and Russia hold joint maneuvers around the coasts of Taiwan and Japan, all the alarm sirens will sound in the democracies of East Asia. Moscow and Beijing have moved even closer together since Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. The rulers Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping see their countries’ cooperation as the closest of all possible partnerships.

Nor can it hide the fact that Xi assured the German Chancellor during his visit to Beijing that the People’s Republic is opposed to the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine. This minimal consensus among civilized nations in no way signifies a departure from Moscow, which the joint maneuvers are now intended to demonstrate.

Although the People’s Republic has never officially admitted military support for Russia, weapons technology may have found its way to the front in occupied Ukraine via North Korea. Putin and Xi are both supporters of North Korea’s Stone Age regime of Kim Jong Un (just as they are closely associated with the mullahs’ regime in Tehran).

According to the New York Times, Pyongyang has conducted 88 missile tests in the year now ended, and several of the missiles landed in seas belonging to Japan or South Korea, causing the armies of both countries (and American troops stationed in both countries as allies are) on alert. There is also agreement that North Korea is now capable of nuclear missiles.

Beijing, for its part, fired missiles that landed off the coast of Taiwan during the naval blockade of democratic and free Taiwan in August. This was Xi’s retaliation for US politician Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island.

Beijing claims that Taiwan is part of the People’s Republic. In truth, however, the CP never ruled over this island, which is now a thriving democracy.

Moscow and Beijing are both intent on an escalation in the western Pacific, and their maneuver now is not meant to smooth over the waves that have been raised over the past few months.

Beijing’s aim is to brutally transform this international body of water into a national one. Chinese militias have already occupied islands belonging to the Philippines. In addition, the People’s Republic has created artificial islands and militarized them.

The ultimate goal is to drive the United States, which is a partner of the Philippines, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea, out of the Pacific and then become the new hegemon, able to dominate the countries of the region, militarily and economically.

The fact that Beijing thinks of both together has become all too clear in the past: according to a report by Foreign Affairs magazine, China has tried 123 times since 2010 to politically enforce its ideology through economic pressure.

Russia is pulling in the same direction here as China, because the common enemy of the two rulers, Putin and Xi, is the United States. Nevertheless, China is pulling the strings here and not Beijing. In October, Vladimir Putin had to report to the Chinese paramount leader on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting and answer “questions and concerns” about the Ukraine war.

The Kremlin might see itself as an equal partner alongside Beijing. In reality, however, the People’s Republic is now a much more powerful player than Putin’s Russia. The number of successful economic gag attempts alone proves that the People’s Republic is more deeply connected to the world economy than any country in the world can really ignore as a production location and sales market alike.

The maneuvers that are now taking place between Russia and China can be seen in the context of the modernization of the Chinese army, which should be completed in 2027, the centenary year of the founding of the so-called “People’s Liberation Army”.

Here the Russian army is helping the Chinese counterpart. Moscow is supposed to make Beijing fit, especially when it comes to land grabs, house-to-house fighting and guerrilla warfare.

Xi Jinping has announced that he may also want to attack and occupy free Taiwan. For that he would need exactly those skills.

However, thank God, Russia’s army has lacked exactly that in its warmongering in Ukraine. Putin was probably quoted in this context for the report to Xi and not because Xi is concerned about world peace.

In any case, in the already tense atmosphere in the western Pacific, the world has nothing to look forward to from deeper cooperation between China and Russia. The maneuver should go over the Christmas period and end on December 27th.

In Ukraine, too, Putin does not want to let the guns rest for Christmas. Xi and Putin’s goal is to wear down the free world. For freedom and democracy, there will not even be a ceasefire this year at Christmas.

Alexander Görlach is a Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs and a Research Associate at the Internet Institute at the University of Oxford. After stays in Taiwan and Hong Kong, this region of the world, especially the rise of China and what it means for the free world, became his core subject. He has held various positions at Harvard University and Cambridge University.

Author: Alexander Gorlach

The original of this article “Görlach global: Xi Jinping and Waldimir Putin – together against the USA” comes from Deutsche Welle.