Concern grows over Putin's relationship with China: 'Closer than ever'

While NATO does not consider China as an adversary, it is increasingly concerned about Beijing's closer ties with Russia and Vladimir Putin, following the invasion of Ukraine.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said at a NATO summit on Tuesday the alliance needed to engage with Beijing on issues like climate change and acknowledged China will soon be the world's biggest economy.

"But we are disappointed by the fact that China has not been able to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine, that China is spreading many of the false narratives about NATO, the West, and also that China and Russia are more close now than they have ever been before," he added.

NATO is concerned about Russia and China's relationship. Source: AAP
NATO is concerned about Russia and China's relationship. Source: AAP

The comments came after China and Russia on the opening day of the Winter Olympics on February 4 presented a manifesto that marked the most detailed and assertive statement of Russian and Chinese resolve to work together to build a new international order based on their view of human rights and democracy.

In the document, China joined Russia in calling for an end to NATO enlargement and supported its demand for security guarantees from the West.

"That is the first time China so explicitly (expressed) a strong opinion directed against NATO and NATO enlargement," Stoltenberg said on the eve of a three-day NATO Summit in Madrid.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin attend a welcome ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China June 8, 2018.
Russia and China previously committed to working together following a meeting between Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin. Source: Reuter

Australia fears Russia and China relationship

Earlier this month, Chinese President Xi Jinping reasserted his support for Russia, on issues of sovereignty and security.

Xi spoke with Russia's President Vladimir Putin over the phone, where he said "all parties should responsibly push for a proper settlement of the Ukraine crisis".

The West has condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine, while Beijing was met with mounting criticism for neglecting to condemn Russia's invasion and subsequent war.

"We have always stood for maintaining peace and opposing war. China's position is objective and fair, and is in line with the wishes of most countries," Foreign Minister Wang Yi said back in March.

"Time will prove that China's claims are on the right side of history."

China was condemned for not speaking out against Russia's war in Ukraine. Source: AP
China was condemned for not speaking out against Russia's war in Ukraine. Source: AP

A large majority of Australians now see China as a military threat and confidence in Xi is now at a record low, new Lowy Institute research reveals.

Most Australians would be in support of the defence force engaging in a conflict between Taiwan and China.

In their meeting hours before the Winter Olympics, Xi and Putin declared opposition to any expansion of NATO and affirmed Taiwan is part of China.

The report also found more than two-thirds of Aussies listed Russia at the top of a list of threats to Australia's vital interests, while 65 per cent also raised concerns about China's foreign policy.

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