MOSCOW — The foreign ministers of Russia and China jointly denounced what they described Thursday as the unilateralism of the United States, criticism that underlined their growing rapport on global issues.
Speaking in Moscow after talks with his Russian counterpart, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi strongly criticized Washington’s move to hike tariffs on Chinese products.
“If the U.S. thinks that it can get advantages through protectionism, its calculus is wrong,” Wang warned.
China’s new defense minister says his visit to Russia is a signal to the United States about the increasingly close military ties between Moscow and Beijing.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, when asked about Russia’s view of the U.S.-Chinese trade conflict, said the U.S. action reflects the Trump administration’s unilateralist approach to international concerns.
He cited as examples the U.S. push to renegotiate a nuclear deal with Iran and the terms of an international climate agreement.
“It has nothing to do with diplomacy. It’s an attempt to enforce its own interests while completely ignoring the interests of others,” Lavrov said.
Russia’s recently reinvigorated support for China reflects its disappointment with Washington after the Kremlin hoped for improved relations under President Donald Trump.
Trump has approved higher duties on Chinese telecoms, aerospace and other technology goods, but left time to negotiate by announcing a comment period through May 11.
Chinese regulators made a $50 billion list of items on which the country could increase tariffs to retaliate, including soybeans and small aircraft.
Wang warned that Washington’s move would hurt the global economy and international trade, denouncing it as “typical unilateralism and an undisguised attempt at hegemony.”
“The international community must jointly oppose such unilateralism and violation of rules,” he said.
War with China and war with Russia would have some overlapping qualities, but the Pentagon needs to figure out how and where to invest to deal with both.
Wang’s trip to Russia follows a Moscow visit earlier this week by new Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe, who said it was a signal to the U.S. of increasingly close Russia-China military ties.
As part of their burgeoning military cooperation, Moscow and Beijing have conducted joint drills, including exercises in the South China Sea and joint navy maneuvers in the Baltics.
Moscow’s hopes for warmed Russia-U.S. ties under Trump have withered amid the investigations of alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia and myriad other disputes, most recently the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy in Britain.
“We in Russia stand for direct dialogue to solve any outstanding issues,” Lavrov said. “We never dodge negotiations. It’s our American partners who do.”
He pointed to the last-minute cancellation of a meeting of Russian and American cybersecurity experts and Washington’s refusal to hold a meeting on cultural issues.
“Unilateralism is always bad and particularly so when it becomes the main foreign policy tool,” Lavrov said. “China and Russia have repeatedly shown their readiness to search for reasonable compromises based on taking interests of all interested parties into account.”
The U.S. and NATO forces on Europe's eastern border are vastly outnumbered by the Russian military and could be quickly overwhelmed if Moscow mounted an aggressive assault into the Baltic region.
Moscow and Beijing have forged what they describe as a “strategic partnership,” expressing their shared opposition to the “unipolar” world — the term they use to describe the United States’ perceived global domination.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has developed warm personal ties with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and the two leaders regularly exchange visits. Putin is set to go to China in June for a meeting of the security grouping dominated by Moscow and Beijing.
While greeting Wang on Thursday, Putin hailed the Chinese legislature’s unanimous decision last month to reappoint Xi as president with no limit on the number of terms he can serve. Wang conveyed Xi’s congratulations on Putin’s re-election, also last month.
“I would like to express hope that after the Russian presidential election and important political events in the People’s Republic of China, we will continue our course aimed at further strengthening bilateral ties,” Putin said.