China and Russia strengthen ties ahead of possible Xi-Putin summit

China and Russia strengthen ties ahead of possible Xi-Putin summit

China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, begins on Monday a four-day trip to Russia during which both nations are expected to pledge deeper mutual political trust, readying for a possible landmark visit by President Vladimir Putin to Beijing in October. Wang, who heads the foreign ministry as well as the ruling Communist Party’s foreign affairs office, will meet Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev for annual security talks, the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement.

The veteran diplomat’s talks with counterpart Sergei Lavrov will cover a “wide range of issues” including “contacts at higher and the highest levels,” the Russian foreign ministry said last week. Wang is expected to lay the groundwork for Putin’s visit to the Chinese capital for the third Belt and Road Forum after an invitation by President Xi Jinping during a high-profile visit to Moscow in March.

China and Russia strengthen ties ahead of possible Xi-Putin summit
China and Russia strengthen ties ahead of possible Xi-Putin summit

Putin faces arrest warrant from ICC over Ukraine crisis

Putin attended China’s first two Belt and Road Forums in 2017 and 2019. But he is not known to have travelled abroad since the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant against him on grounds of illegally deporting hundreds of children from Ukraine. On Sept. 1, Putin said he expected to meet Xi soon, but did not explicitly confirm that he would travel to China again.

The warrant, issued just days before Xi visited Russia, obligates the court’s 123 member states to arrest Putin and transfer him to the Hague for trial if he enters their territory. However, China is not a party to the Rome Statute that led to the establishment of the ICC in 2002. The visit will also see a detailed exchange of views on issues including Ukraine, ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said last week.

Wang meets US national security adviser in Malta

Wang last visited Russia in February on the eve of the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, alarming the United States, which accused the two nations at the time of sharing a vision in which “borders could be redrawn by force”. Ahead of this week’s visit, Wang travelled to Malta for hours of “constructive” talks with White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan. The weekend talks were the latest in a series of high-level meetings between US and Chinese officials that could lay the foundation for a meeting this year between Xi and US President Joe Biden.

The US and China have been locked in a bitter rivalry over trade, human rights, technology, and regional influence. Both sides have imposed sanctions and restrictions on each other’s officials, companies, and media outlets. The talks in Malta were aimed at exploring areas of cooperation and managing areas of disagreement.

China and Russia vow to uphold multilateralism and global stability

China and Russia have been close allies since the end of the Cold War, often voting together on the UN Security Council and coordinating their positions on global issues. They have also boosted their economic, military, and cultural ties through various platforms such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the BRICS group, and the Eurasian Economic Union.

Both countries have expressed their opposition to US-led alliances and interventions in other countries’ affairs. They have also defended their own sovereignty and territorial integrity against external pressures. They have supported each other on sensitive issues such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, Xinjiang, Crimea, Syria, Iran, and North Korea.

Wang and Lavrov are expected to reiterate their commitment to upholding multilateralism, international law, and global stability during their meeting. They are also likely to discuss ways to enhance their cooperation on COVID-19 response, climate change, energy security, and regional connectivity.

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