Addis Ababa, February 4, 2022 (Walta) – In a show of unity, Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin have met in Beijing as Moscow’s deteriorating relations with the West take centre stage ahead of the official opening of the Winter Olympics in the Chinese capital.
During his visit on Friday, Putin hailed his country’s “unprecedented” ties with China at a time of growing tensions with the West over Ukraine and other issues.
In a joint statement, the two leaders reaffirmed their support for each other’s foreign policy – including Russia’s backing of China over Taiwan – while they also agreed on wider security issues. Both expressed concern over the AUKUS defence alliance which includes Australia, the UK and the United States.
The two world leaders join forces in criticising what they said was a negative US influence both in Europe and in the Asia-Pacific region, and in opposing “the further expansion of NATO” in what they called a “Cold War era” approach.
China has become more vocal in backing Russia in its dispute with NATO powers over Ukraine.
However, Al Jazeera’s Katrina Yu said this “does not necessarily mean that China would welcome any potential attack on Ukraine”, citing the Chinese government’s good relations with Kyiv, an important trading partner that is also part of the Belt and Road infrastructure initiative.
“Certainly, Xi right now, heading into the Winter Olympics, doesn’t want anything to disrupt stability,” she added, noting, however, that discussions on Ukraine are expected to be high on the agenda of the two leaders’ talks on Friday.
“They really have been trying to convey a united front – both leaders have experienced souring relations with the US and its allies over the recent years,” Yu said, reporting from Beijing. “And China has signaled that it would support Russia economically should the US impose any sort of crippling sanctions.”