China, Russia agree to strengthen ties in energy and finance during Xi-Putin’s call

Chinese President Xi Jinping has reaffirmed his country’s support for Russia on sovereignty and security issues during a phone call with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, according to Chinese state media.

Key points:

  • China says “all parties should push responsibly for a proper solution to Ukraine’s crisis”
  • The Kremlin says Russian-Chinese relations were at an “unprecedented high and are constantly improving.”
  • Both leaders agreed to expand co-operation in energy, finance and industry to counter Western sanctions

The official Xinhua news agency reports that Xi told his Russian counterpart that “all parties should push responsibly for a proper solution to the Ukraine crisis.”

In its report on the call, the Kremlin said Putin “described his fundamental assessments of the situation in Ukraine.”

Xi “noted the legitimacy of Russia’s actions to protect fundamental national interests in the face of security challenges posed by external forces,” according to Moscow’s official transcript of the call.

China has refused to criticize the Russian invasion of Ukraine, or even to refer to it in such terms, while accusing NATO and the West of provoking Moscow to attack it.

Weeks before the Russian attack, Putin and Xi met in Beijing in February and oversaw the signing of an agreement that promised relations between the parties “would have no limits.”

It is unclear whether the Chinese leader knew at the time of Russia’s plan to invade Ukraine.

At that February meeting, the two leaders pushed back pressure from the United States, declaring their opposition to any NATO expansion and saying the island of Taiwan was part of China, as they had met hours earlier. from the start of the Beijing Winter Olympics.

Xi told Putin on Wednesday that China was “willing to work with the Russian side to promote the steady and long-term development of pragmatic bilateral cooperation,” Xinhua reported.

“China is ready to continue, along with Russia, to support each other on issues related to key interests and major concerns, such as sovereignty and security.”

Relations between Russia and China remain close, despite Beijing’s reluctance to explicitly support President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. (Reuter: Sputnik / Evgeniy Paulin)

Russia and China unite against the West

The Kremlin said Putin had agreed with Xi to expand co-operation in energy, finance and industry as Moscow faces unprecedented Western sanctions on Ukraine.

“It was agreed to expand cooperation in energy, finance, industry, transport and other areas, given the global economic situation that has been complicated by the West’s policy of illegitimate sanctions.” , the Kremlin said in a transcript of the leaders. named.

“Leaders said Russian-Chinese relations are at an unprecedented high and are constantly improving.”

While offering tacit support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine, China has tried to appear neutral and avoid possible repercussions of support for the Russian economy amid international sanctions.

Moscow and Beijing have increasingly aligned their foreign policies to oppose liberal democratic forces in Asia, Europe and beyond, taking a stand for authoritarian rule, with narrow borders and little regard for freedom of expression. minority rights or opposition policy.

AP / Reuters

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