A sobering realization is setting in as American policymakers begin to assess the new, harsher international environment. Officials in Washington are recognizing that ties between Russia and China, long discounted—or even dismissed—as a “marriage of convenience,” have the potential to reshape global politics.
The runup to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine focused their minds on the problem. In early February, as American warnings about a possible Russian attack grew increasingly urgent, Putin visited his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, for the Winter Olympics in Beijing. During the visit the Chinese and Russian governments issued a more than 5,000-word joint statement that hailed a partnership with “no forbidden zones.”