Their meeting was actually pretty important, just not in the way that many in the Alt-Media Community expected nor the reporter who phrased his question to the Russian leader in the particular way that he did by focusing on the geostrategic aspect of their ties.
Many in the Alt-Media Community (AMC) expected that President Putin’s meeting with his Chinese counterpart on the sidelines of last week’s SCO Summit in Samarkand would lead to some dramatic announcements considering all that’s happened across the world since the last time they met in person in early February. The brief remarks shared by each leader before their talks reaffirmed these Great Powers’ close ties in the global systemic transition to multipolarity, which further raised hopes among observers that they might coordinate some game-changing cooperation during their tête-à-tête.
In fact, even one of the journalists who asked President Putin a question during his press conference after the summit expected that the Russian leader discussed some very important geostrategic issues with his Chinese counterpart. Alas, that media professional was disappointed as were many in the AMC when they found out that this wasn’t the case, with those two instead mostly talking about economic issues. Here’s the full exchange between President Putin and that journalist, after which an explanation will follow about why he downplayed the importance of his meeting with President Xi (emphasis added):
“Question: Your most important bilateral meeting has taken place with the leader of China. This was a very important meeting, given the tense atmosphere across the globe, and the whole world was following it. What are the most important outcomes of the meeting?
Vladimir Putin: As strange as it may sound, there was nothing of paramount importance. This was actually a routine meeting between us. We have not met in person for a while, since my trip to Beijing for the opening of the Olympics, and we simply stated a significant increase in bilateral trade.
Our trade stood at US$140 billion last year, as I mentioned earlier, and we had set the goal of reaching US$200 billion, but we considered it to be a long-term task. This year’s mutual trade is expected to reach some US$180 or even US$190 billion, meaning that the goal of US$200 billion is about to be achieved, and I believe this is the bottom line.
We spoke about additional efforts required to expand bilateral trade, and what needs to be done in the current conditions to efficiently resist the illegal restrictions and all sorts of trade wars being unleashed here and there by our so-called trade partners, who apply various illegitimate restrictions.
Nevertheless, we have to take action to respond to this in some way. We are aware of what is happening.
We also spoke about the need to expand trade and settlements in national currencies, which are gradually increasing – not as fast as we would like it to, but there is progress, nonetheless. We talked about major projects we are implementing and mentioned infrastructure projects that would allow us to unblock growing commodity flows. These were the topics of discussion.
But we also mentioned some crisis-related issues and we spoke about them in a friendly yet principled manner.”
As can be seen, the Russian leader emphasized that the essence of their discussion concerned economic cooperation, which also involved broader dimensions such as counteracting the Golden Billion’s illegal sanctions. This actually aligns with his country’s Asia-Pacific strategy that he summarized in his greetings to the participants in this month’s Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok. President Putin suggested that creating, maintaining, and expanding complex relations of economic interdependence (such as the ones Russia has with China in this context) is a prerequisite for sustainably building multipolarity.
Nevertheless, that’s not to say that Presidents Putin and Xi haven’t discussed geostrategic issues since the special military operation began, but just that this already probably happened in their prior phone conversations in the months ahead of last week’s in-person meeting. Moreover, their permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) closely cooperate on a wide range of issues. Therefore, neither leader felt the need to waste precious time redundantly reviewing those previously agreed issues, instead wisely choosing to focus on pressing economic ones.
With this insight in mind about how International Relations are really conducted, those who had high expectations that the meeting between Presidents Putin and Xi would be geostrategically game-changing might need to learn more about the aforementioned intricacies. Among those observers who are already familiar with this workflow but still got it wrong, they evidently misread the sequence of events leading up to their latest in-person talks. That could possibly be attributable to them falling under the influence of the same wishful thinking that the Russian leader cautioned against earlier this summer.
Having clarified why President Putin downplayed the importance of his meeting with President Xi (which wasn’t for so-called “5D chess” reasons to “psyche out” anyone like some of the AMC”s literal conspiracy theorists might imagine as a coping mechanism), that doesn’t mean that it still wasn’t worthwhile. To the contrary, since the comprehensive expansion of Russian-Chinese financial and trade ties forms one of the geo-economic bases of the emerging Multipolar World Order and aligns with President Putin’s Asia-Pacific strategy, it was imperative for him to discuss the details with President Xi.
Considering this, their meeting was actually pretty important, just not in the way that many in the AMC expected nor the reporter who phrased his question to the Russian leader in the particular way that he did by focusing on the geostrategic aspect of their ties. Had the latter emphasized the significance of their economic relations for accelerating the global systemic transition to multipolarity, not to mention referenced President Putin’s Asia-Pacific strategy that he touched upon earlier this month, then there wouldn’t have been the need to downplay their talks to avoid false perceptions about their substance.