Photo: Wang Zhao/AFP/Getty Images

Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Russia's Vladimir Putin are strategizing how to reposition themselves for a new, more powerful future amid a rapid deterioration of the U.S.-led global order.

What we're hearing: Xi and Putin, meeting Friday in Beijing and again yesterday in the city of Qingdao, don't appear to think they have the cachet — even combined — to create an entirely new system. Nor is it clear that at the moment they would want to trash the U.S.-led institutions that have anchored the global economy and political order since World War II.

But look for the mutually distrustful pair to feel out ways to transition to a new world in which a loose grouping of China, Russia and their allies can become more or less the geopolitical equals of the West.

  • In a special report yesterday, Axios' Jim VandeHei and Jonathan Swan wrote that President Trump is shaking up U.S.-led institutions.
  • Yesterday, for instance, Trump threw down lightning bolts from Air Force One when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dared challenge him on trade. He angrily tweeted that he withdrew the U.S. signature from a just-finished G7 summit communique.
  • Such spectacles feed Xi's and Putin's conviction that "the West is in free fall," says Mathew Burrows, former counselor at the National Intelligence Council, and now at the Atlantic Council. He tells Axios, "Both Xi and Putin have been surprised and shocked by the rapidity of the U.S. decline."
  • Burrows adds: "We’re descending fast into a Hobbesian world. Only the U.S. think tank community believes it can restore the liberal rules-based order: Such grand illusions!"

What this new world might look like: China's long-term vision is a world structured within its various big infrastructure initiatives. But Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group, tells Axios that he does not see Xi and Putin for now attempting to replace the post-war multilateral architecture. He believes it will remain in place.

  • Rather, they are both looking for advantage from the mayhem — separately, Bremmer says, because, notwithstanding Xi and Putin's shows of bonhomie, "they don't trust each other."
  • "They both see opportunities, to be sure. Russia — to undermine the U.S. and divide the West. China — to expand their political and economic influence globally."
  • Bremmer's take: "Long term, China is the emerging superpower; Putin's a master tactician but doesn't have a plan."

Go deeper

Updated 7 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: The swing states where the pandemic is raging — Pence no longer expected to attend Barrett confirmation vote after COVID exposure.
  2. Health: 13 states set single-day case records last week
  3. Business: Where stimulus is needed most.
  4. Education: The dangerous instability of school re-openings.
  5. States: Nearly two dozen Minnesota COVID cases traced to 3 Trump campaign events
  6. World: Unrest in Italy as restrictions grow across Europe.
  7. Media: Fox News president and several hosts advised to quarantine.
Updated 10 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Republicans and Dems react to Coney Barrett's Supreme Court confirmation

President Trump stands with Judge Amy Coney Barrett after she took the constitutional oath to serve as a Supreme Court justice during a White House ceremony Monday night .Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

President Trump said Judge Amy Coney Barrett's Senate confirmation to the Supreme Court and her subsequent taking of the constitutional oath Monday was a "momentous day," as she she vowed to serve "without any fear or favour."

Of note: As Republicans applauded the action, Democratic leaders warned of consequences to the rush to replace the late liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with a conservative so close to the election, as progressives led calls to expand the court.

Hurricane Zeta makes landfall in Mexico ahead of expected arrival in U.S.

Hurricane Zeta's forecast path. Photo: National Hurricane Center

Hurricane Zeta made landfall on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula as a Category 1 storm late Monday packing maximum sustained winds of 80 mph, per the National Hurricane Center.

The state of play: Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) declared a state of emergency Monday as Zeta strengthened into a hurricane earlier Monday.