China will support Russia on security, Xi tells Putin in birthday appeal


On his 69th birthday, Xi also pledged to deepen strategic coordination between the two countries, China’s foreign ministry said.

A separate Kremlin readout said the two leaders stressed that relations between their countries were “at an historic high” and that they were once again determined to “consistently deepen the comprehensive partnership”.

The call would be the second time the two have met since Russia invaded Ukraine. They last spoke a few days after Moscow launched a “special military operation.”

China, too, has refrained from referring to Russia’s actions as an invasion and has followed a thin line on the matter. It has portrayed itself as calling for peace and the maintenance of world order, while refusing to expose Russia’s actions. It has also used its state media apparatus to mimic the Kremlin lines blaming the United States and NATO for the crisis.

During Wednesday’s appeal, Xi stressed that China has always “assessed the situation independently” in Ukraine and called on “all parties” to press for a “proper solution to the Ukraine crisis” — echoing the language he used. used in a March phone conversation with US President Joe Biden.

China is “willing to continue to play its part” in promoting an “correct solution” for Ukraine, he said.

The Kremlin’s summary of the appeal went one step further, saying: “The President of China noted the legitimacy of Russia’s actions to protect fundamental national interests in the face of challenges to its security posed by outside forces. created.”

China’s lack of disapproval of Russia’s war in Ukraine has further strained Beijing’s tense relationship with the US and its allies.

US officials have repeatedly called on countries to condemn Russia’s actions and warned their Chinese counterparts to help Moscow. During the March meeting between Xi and Biden, the US president outlined the consequences if China were to provide material aid, following US intelligence that Moscow had asked Beijing for military aid – a claim both deny.

trade relations

Wednesday’s call was also an opportunity for Putin and Xi to look into a growing trade relationship.

Earlier this year, weeks before the Russian invasion, the two leaders said in a face-to-face meeting that their countries had a “no borders” partnership and pledged to boost trade.

“Since the beginning of this year, bilateral relations have maintained solid development momentum in the face of global turbulence and transformations,” Xi said in Wednesday’s call.

“The Chinese side stands ready to work with the Russian side to push for the steady and long-term development of practical bilateral cooperation,” Xi said, noting the “steady progress” of their trade ties and the opening last week of the first cross. -border highway bridge over the Amur River.

The two agreed to expand cooperation in energy, finance, manufacturing and other areas, “taking into account the global economic situation made more complicated by the West’s illegal sanctions policies,” according to the Kremlin’s readout. .

The two countries also pledged to work together to strengthen communication and coordination in international bodies such as the United Nations – where the two often vote as a bloc.

“China is also ready to work with Russia to promote solidarity and cooperation among emerging market countries… over the countries’ common goal of pushing back against what they see as the global hegemony of the United States.

Birthday wishes

The call wasn’t the first time Xi and Putin — two strong men who had come together through mutual distrust of the West — had engaged on each other’s birthdays.

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In 2013, Xi handed Putin a birthday cake and the two drank vodka together to mark the Russian leader’s 61st birthday at a conference in Indonesia. Xi later celebrated his 66th birthday at a 2019 summit in Tajikistan with Putin, who surprised him with ice cream, cake and champagne.

Their personal relationship, which Xi has described Putin as his “best and closest friend”, would also amplify the dynamics of their strengthening rapport at the national level.

In its summary of the last call from the two leaders, the Kremlin noted that the conversation was conducted in a “traditionally warm and friendly atmosphere”.

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