By Tom O’Connor
April 3, 2018 (Newsweek): China’s military leadership has pledged its support to Russia as tensions between Moscow and the West further deteriorate into diplomatic isolation, economic sanctions and dueling defense drills.
In his first visit to Russia, newly appointed Chinese Defense Minister Wei Feng attended the seventh Moscow International Security Conference accompanied by a delegation of other high-level military officials. Emphasizing that his trip was coordinated directly with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Wei said that he had two major messages for Russia at a time when both nations were attempting to modernize their armed forces and strengthen their hands in global affairs in spite of U.S. fears.
“I am visiting Russia as a new defense minister of China to show the world a high level of development of our bilateral relations and firm determination of our armed forces to strengthen strategic cooperation,” Wei said at a meeting with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, according to the state-run Tass news agency.
“Second, to support the Russian side in organizing the Moscow International Security Conference the Chinese side has come to show Americans the close ties between the armed forces of China and Russia, especially in this situation. We’ve come to support you,” he added. “The Chinese side is ready to express with the Russian side our common concerns and common position on important international problems at international venues as well.”
Russian and Chinese military leadership meets ahead of the Moscow International Security Conference in Moscow, April 3, 2018. The two major powers have pledged solidarity in the face of what they see as U.S. aggression and hegemony. Russian Ministry of Defense
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart command what’s often considered the world’s secodn and the third most powerful armed forces, respectively, behind the U.S. While the Pentagon has managed to retain a comfortable lead against its leading competitors, Moscow and Beijing have coordinated closely as they both aim to close this gap and check U.S. influence abroad.
As Russia showed off its military prowess by declaring victory in the Syrian conflict and boosting its military power across Europe, China has invested in international infrastructural projects—especially across Asia and Africa—and expanded its presence in the Pacific. Both countries argue they are looking to work with and not against the U.S., but Washington has viewed their rise with suspicion and has taken countermeasures against perceived challenges to the international order it has traditionally dominated for decades.
In addition to boosting its own military power in Europe and Asia, the U.S. has portrayed growing Russian and Chinese influence abroad as as assault on democracy.The West has singled out Russia especially, accusing it of interfering
Washington has also charged Moscow with being behind cyber and physical attacks, including the poisoning of ex-Soviet intelligence officer Sergei Skripal who was arrested for being a double agent for London before being released in a 2010 spy swap and moving to the UK.
(The featured image at the top shows Russian and Chinese Special Forces tackling terrorists)