Russia, China push back US in pre-Olympic summit

BEIJING – The leaders of Russia and China pushed back against US pressure on Friday, declaring their opposition to any NATO expansion and asserting that the island of Taiwan is part of China. as they met a few hours before the opening of the Winter Olympics in Beijing .

Russia’s Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping released a joint statement emphasizing what the country calls “interference in the internal affairs” of other countries, as Russia gathers troops on the border. with Ukraine and China to host the global games.

“Some forces representing a minority on the world stage continue to advocate unilateral approaches to solving international problems and employing military policy,” it read, in a reference to America and its allies.

The two leaders are seeking to see themselves as a counterweight to the United States and its allies, as China increasingly shows support for Moscow in its dispute with Ukraine that threatens to erupt into armed conflict.

Putin’s presence makes him the most high-profile guest at the Beijing Olympics following the decision of the US, UK and others not to send officials to protest China’s human rights abuses and treatment of people. Uighurs and other Muslim minorities.

Meeting Xi, Putin hailed the “unprecedented” close relationship with China, in opening remarks reported by Russian television.

“Relations” are developing in a progressive direction in the spirit of friendship and strategic partnership,” Putin said. “They really have become unprecedented. It’s an example of a decent relationship that supports mutual growth.”

Putin highlighted close economic ties, including a new contract to supply China with 10 billion cubic meters of gas a year from eastern Russia.

“During today’s meeting, our oil operators have prepared very good new solutions for supplying hydrocarbons to the People’s Republic of China, and another step has been taken in the industry. gas,” Putin said.

Russia has long been a major supplier of oil, gas and coal to China’s massive economy, now the world’s second-largest, along with food and other raw materials.

China’s state news agency reported that the two leaders met at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse on Friday afternoon, but gave no details. They don’t seem to shake hands when greeting each other due to COVID-19 precautions.

Putin also reiterated his presence in Beijing for the 2008 Summer Olympics, and the Chinese delegation’s participation in Russia’s 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, calling such exchanges “at a high level.” certain degree is a tradition.”

The discussions mark the first face-to-face meeting since 2019 and come as China and Russia increasingly adjust their foreign policies bilaterally and within world organizations such as the United Nations, in opposition. with the US-led bloc.

The leaders of five former Soviet Central Asian countries, with close ties to both Russia and China, have all followed Putin’s lead and are attending, along with other countries with political interests and economic with Beijing.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, World Health Organization Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and World Intellectual Property Organization Director-General Daren Tang were among other dignitaries who arrived on Thursday.

The buildup of more than 100,000 Russian troops near Ukraine has raised concerns in the West that Moscow is ready to invade its neighbour. Russia has denied planning the attack but has called on the US and its allies to make a binding commitment that NATO will not expand into Ukraine and other former Soviet states or deploy weapons there and withdraw. withdrawing forces from Eastern Europe – demands staunchly rejected by the West.

Putin and Xi accuse other countries and alliances of trying to gain military advantages that worsen other nations’ security, citing both NATO and the US’ Indo-Pacific strategy to build closer ties with other countries in Asia.

“The parties oppose further NATO expansion, (and) call on the North Atlantic Alliance to abandon the ideological approaches of the Cold War,” the joint statement said.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a call last week that Moscow’s security concerns need to be taken seriously and addressed, a statement that marks a major milestone in the history of Russia. notable policy shift towards Beijing.

Some observers say Beijing is closely watching how the US and its allies act in the face of Ukraine as they consider their further strategy towards Taiwan, arguing that Washington’s indecisiveness has a negative impact on the situation. could encourage China to become more assertive.

The joint statement said Russia reaffirmed Taiwan’s inalienable part of China and opposed Taiwan independence in any form.

Russia and China have held a series of joint war games, including naval exercises and long-range bomber patrols over the Sea of ​​Japan and the East China Sea. In August, Russian troops were deployed to Chinese territory for the first time for joint exercises.

Putin also noted that Russia has been sharing highly sensitive military technologies with China, which has greatly enhanced its defense capabilities.

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