BEIJING: Russian President Vladimir Putin sips tea alongside Chinese leader Xi Jinping during an informal meeting in the Zhongnanhai compound, near the Forbidden Palace, on Thursday.—AFP
BEIJING: Russian President Vladimir Putin sips tea alongside Chinese leader Xi Jinping during an informal meeting in the Zhongnanhai compound, near the Forbidden Palace, on Thursday.—AFP

• Hail relations as ‘stabilising’ force in chaotic world
• Ask US to shun confrontational behaviour

BEIJING: Leaders Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin framed their nations’ ties as a stabilising force in a chaotic world as they met on Thursday in Beijing, where the Russian president is seeking greater Chinese support for his war effort in Ukraine.

It is Putin’s first trip abroad since his March re-election and the second in just over six months to China, an economic lifeline for Russia after the West hit it with unprecedented sanctions over its military offensive in Ukraine.

Putin was greeted by Xi at a grand welcoming ceremony outside Bei­jing’s Great Hall of the People, footage by state broadcaster CCTV showed.

In a meeting, Xi then told his “old friend” Putin that China-Russia relations were “conducive to peace”. “China is ready to work with Russia to... uphold fairness and justice in the world,” Xi added.

Putin, in turn, told Xi the two countries’ relations were “stabilising factors in the international arena”.

“Relations bet­ween Russia and China are not opportunistic and not directed against anyone,” Putin said, according to a Kremlin readout. “Together, we uphold the principles of justice and a democratic world order that reflects multipolar realities and is based on international law,” he added.

Following closed-door meetings, the two leaders then signed a joint statement on deepening their countries’ “comprehensive strategic partnership”, state news agency Xinhua said.

The statement singled out the United States for particular criticism. “The United States still thinks in terms of the Cold War and is guided by the logic of bloc confrontation, putting the security of ‘narrow groups’ above regional security and stability, which creates a security threat for all countries in the region,” it said. “The US must abandon this behaviour.”

It also condemned initiatives to seize assets and property of foreign states, a clear reference to Western moves to redirect the profits from frozen Russian assets or the assets themselves to help Ukraine.

The Russian leader’s arrival came hours after he hailed his country’s troops for advancing on “all fronts” on the battlefield in Ukraine, following a major new ground assault.

And the Kremlin said Russia and China had agreed to oppose “further escalation” of the conflict in Ukraine on Thursday.

“The parties note the need to stop any steps that contribute to the prolongation of hostilities,” the Kremlin’s readout of their joint statement said.

On Thursday afternoon, the Russian leader met Premier Li Qiang — China’s number two official — who said Beijing was willing to “continue to deepen cooperation in various fields”.

Putin and Xi then atte­nded a ceremony cele­­b­­rating 75 years of diplomatic relations.

Published in Dawn, May 17th, 2024

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