Beijing: As the Ukraine war continues to wage on, China's position on Russia has subtly shifted whereby Beijing still undoubtedly wishes to redirect the evolution of the global order, but has decided not to trumpet that it is working with Russia to do so, at least for now, media reports said.

However, as China keeps distance to explicitly mention working with Russia together to reshape the current international system, one must not forget that the partnership with Russia is too important for Beijing to truly abandon its ally, The Diplomat said.

For Instance, Chinese President Xi Jinping in his June 15 phone call with Russia President Vladimir Putin talked about cooperation on "the development of the international order and global governance towards a more just and reasonable direction."

However, one can read it as a subtle critique, when Xi said "China will work with Russia to fulfil their responsibilities as major countries and play a leading role in injecting stability into a world of change and disorder."

In this quote, Xi may be implying that Russia is not currently fulfilling its responsibility as a major country or contributing to global stability, reported The Diplomat. It is these sorts of intrinsic commentary that Xi is making.

The last time before the recent Shanghai Cooperation Organization Meeting, Xi and Putin shook hands on February 4 in Beijing, where Putin was attending the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games. Back then, their joint statement famously declared that "friendship between the two States has no limits."

Now the tides have changed. Xi now refrains from explicitly mentioning Beijing and Moscow's joint efforts to reshape the world order to their liking.

In the same vein, the September 15 SCO meeting is largely quiet on strategic cooperation between China and Russia. While Xi acknowledges "effective strategic communication" between the two, that is a qualitative shift from his promise back in June that "China is willing to work with Russia to continue... deepening their strategic coordination."

Instead, in this week's meeting Xi pointedly emphasized more anodyne fields of cooperation, like sports exchanges and people-to-people relations. The only fields where he specifically said China is seeking to "deepen practice cooperation" are "trade, agriculture, connectivity, and other areas," with "other areas" left to the imagination.

This stark shift from Xi's positioning in his talks with Putin forces one to ponder over the deep silence that once used to be an openly flaunted "friendship."