Congressman Mike Waltz (R-Fla.) says Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s latest meeting with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, is a sign the two leaders are bringing their countries together into an axis of authoritarian nations.
Putin greeted Xi at a meeting in Moscow on Monday. Xi’s Russia visit, which is set to run through to Thursday, is his first visit to Russia since Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February of 2022.
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has described Xi’s visit to Russia as an effort to promote a peaceful end to the ongoing fighting in Ukraine. But Waltz said Xi’s visit will actually serve a longer-term goal of solidifying a partnership and power alignment between Russia and China.
“I think in the short term, you know, China’s trying to insert itself into the Ukraine conflict and present itself as a peacemaker,” Waltz told NTD News on the sidelines of a House Republican Party retreat in Orlando, Florida on Monday.
“But really, I think in the longer term, it’s cementing this alignment of authoritarianism that we’re seeing with China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, with the [Chinese Communist Party] as the leader of the pack and the leader of the axis of evil, so to speak.”
‘No Limits’ Partnership
China and Russia are not in a formal military alliance, but the two countries announced a “no limits” partnership with Russia just weeks before Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The ties between China and Russia have seemed to increase in months since Russian forces entered Ukraine.
“This ‘No Limits partnership,’ I think we should take it seriously,” Waltz said. “I mean, it’s everything up in space, where they have a joint agreement, the Russians and Chinese, to put a manned station on the moon by the end of this decade, that has military and economic implications to its oil and gas sector to the raw materials.”
“And then, of course, the military where we’re increasingly seeing both the Chinese and Russians conduct joint military drills. This is, frankly, Xi stepping into what he sees as a vacuum of American leadership. And we should be taking a much more forceful stance about it.”
US Wary of China’s Support for Ukraine Peace Talks
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken welcomed China’s support for peace talks in Ukraine in February but also warned against China supplying weapons to the Russian side in the conflict while the U.S. and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) send weapons systems to the Ukrainian side.
Waltz described China’s apparent support for peace negotiations in Ukraine as an effort by China to “whitewash” its desires to assert control over Taiwan, including through the use of military force.
Blinken himself alleged China’s efforts to promote peace talks in Ukraine are meant to help solidify Russia’s territorial gains since the invasion began.
“Calling for a ceasefire that does not include the removal of Russian forces from Ukrainian territory would effectively be supporting the ratification of Russian conquest,” Blinken told reporters on Monday. “The world should not be fooled by any tactical move by Russia, supported by China or any other country, to freeze the war on its own terms.”
Some western officials have urged the international community to decline a peace agreement that entails Ukraine ceding territory to Russia.
The Russian side has rejected Ukrainian proposals for peace negotiations which included Russian forces and leaders facing war crimes tribunals.
Growing Skepticism of China
Waltz described China’s growing ties with Russia as just one area of concern for the United States.
The lawmaker also raised concerns over Chinese efforts to surveil and influence western users, including through the popular TikTok social media app, which is owned by a Chinese firm.
Waltz said he fully supports banning TikTok in the United States and compared the app to the Chinese high-altitude balloon that flew over America last month, raising concerns that the aircraft was spying on the country.
“This is like having a Chinese spy balloon on 100 million American phones,” Waltz said.
“And people need to understand it’s every password, it’s your financial information. Every keystroke, every search is being exfiltrated and then accessed by the Chinese Communist Party. This is a massive not only data gathering operation, but then also serves as a tremendous propaganda platform.”
Recent polls have indicated a growing number of Americans see China as the leading threat to the United States.
Waltz said he believes it’s a good thing that more Americans are skeptical of China but said those concerns are lagging on the Democratic side of the political aisle.
“I think it’s limited on the Democrat side so far. And I hope that changes,” Waltz said.
Since taking office, President Joe Biden has said he hopes to find some areas where the United States and China can cooperate, such as addressing climate change. Near the start of his administration, Biden said, “We cannot and must not return to the reflexive opposition and rigid blocs of the Cold War.”
The Biden administration has confronted its Chinese counterparts on other occasions, like when the Chinese balloon flew over the United States.
In January, the House of Representatives voted to form the Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The House formed the new committee with the support of all Republicans and 146 Democrats, while 65 Democrats opposed forming the new committee.
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), who voted in favor of the new CCP Strategic Competition committee, told Politico he supported forming the panel but had some reservations.
“I have lots of concerns about how [Republicans] demagogue the issue and promote conspiracy theories and xenophobia,” McGovern said.
Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) was among the 65 Democrats who voted against forming the new committee. In January, she told CNN she voted “no” because “It’s really clear that this is just a committee that would further embolden anti-Asian rhetoric and hate and put lives at risk.”