By equating Putin and Xi, Western leaders risk casting aside possibilities for international cooperation and setting the world on a path to far wider geopolitical conflict
In the run-up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin’s highly publicized meeting with Xi Jinping before the Beijing Winter Olympics seems to have crystallized opinion in the west. In the US and its allies, political leaders, commentators and journalists now portray a monolithic authoritarian bloc bent on extinguishing the rules-based order that has safeguarded peace and democracy for decades.
According to the Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, “a new arc of autocracy is instinctively aligning to challenge and reset the world order in their own image.” Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, characterized the joint communique coming out of the Putin-Xi meeting as aiming to establish “the rule of the strongest [over] the rule of law, intimidation instead of self-determination, coercion instead of cooperation”.
Tobita Chow is the director of Justice Is Global, a project of People’s Action and the People’s Action Institute
Jake Werner is a Global China post-doctoral research fellow at the Boston University Global Development Policy Center