Xi hosts Putin on state visit in sign of deepening relations

1 of 2 | Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (L) and China’s President Xi Jinping shake hands during a signing ceremony following their talks in Beijing on Thursday. Photo by Russian state agency Sputnik/UPI | License Photo

May 16 (UPI) — President Vladimir Putin of Russia met Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Beijing on Thursday in a show of solidarity between the two countries amid rising tensions with the United States and the Kremlin’s war against Ukraine.

The Russian leader was greeted by Xi with an official ceremony that preceded closed-door discussions and the signing of agreements, including a joint statement on deepening their comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation.

During a joint press conference following their meeting, Xi said he and Putin saw a “political settlement” as the solution to the Ukrainian war, which he called a crisis.

“The Chinese side hopes for the swift restoration of peace and stability on the European continent and is ready to continue playing its constructive role,” he said, according to a transcript provided by the Kremlin.

Putin boasted about the growing strength of their relationship and that the talks showed “the great importance” that they each attach to it deepening.

“Both countries pursue an independent and autonomous foreign policy,” he said, adding that they “consider it necessary to work toward building a reliable and adequate security architecture in the Asia-Pacific region, which leaves no room for closed military-political alliances,” which he described as “very harmful and counterproductive.”

He also said he would inform Xi about the situation in Ukraine and was “grateful to our Chinese friends and colleagues for the initiatives they are proposing to resolve this issue.”

Xi remarked that it was Putin’s first state visit to China since winning a fifth term — following elections that have been widely discredited — and that it takes place in the year marking the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between their two countries.

The Russian leader recalled Xi’s visit to Moscow in March 2023 following his re-election as president of the people’s republic that month.

“We have a good, good tradition of making the first foreign visits to each other,” Putin said.

“And this is a clear confirmation of the importance attached to both us and you, in Moscow and Beijing, to the consistent development of bilateral relations of comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation.”

Putin’s state visit comes as Russia’s dependence on China has grown amid mounting economic pressure from democratic nations that have turned away from Moscow following its February 2022, full invasion of Ukraine, for which it has been hit with an array of sanctions and commerce bans.

The Biden administration has been attempting to calm growing tensions with China over the past year by creating channels for dialogue but has also lashed out at Beijing, most recently on Tuesday when President Joe Biden increased tariffs on some $18 billion of Chinese imports.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken late last month used one of those dialogue-forging visits to Beijing to warn there would be consequences for flooding international markets with cut-price goods in an attempt to harm competition.

He also warned China against supporting Russia’s defense base, in line with an administration threat it would sanction Chinese companies that sell weapons components and dual-use materials to Moscow for use in Ukraine.

Thursday marked the first of Putin’s two-day visit with a visit to Harbin Institute of Technology in the northeast of the country scheduled for Friday.

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Darryl Coote