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Putin Meets ‘Old Friend’ Xi: Deals, Concert, and Tea Ceremony

May 17, 2024
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Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday greeted his “old friend” Russian President Vladimir Putin on a red carpet outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. The two world leaders discussed a host of issues ranging from Ukraine conflict to expansion of joint military drills, attended a concert together and spent the evening over a tea ceremony.

Putin, who landed in China on Thursday for a two-day state visit, held talks with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping for over two hours. They signed as many as 10 agreements, including expanding military drills. They also discussed measures to “deepen” their strategic cooperation and partnership.

A lot happened on the first day of Putin’s visit to China. Here’s all you need to know:

Xi Jinping welcomed Putin, saying, “Dear President Putin, my old friend, we welcome your participation in the Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.”

Later, the two leaders held a key meeting on Thursday. They “concluded a sincere and cordial meeting covering many topics”, Xi was quoted by Xinhua news agency as saying. As per the report, they reviewed “successful experience” in developing the China-Russia relationship over the past 75 years.

They also had an in-depth exchange of views on the relationship and major international and regional issues of mutual interest. They further “charted the course forward for Sino-Russian relations and cooperation across the board”, Xinhua news reported.

Xi hailed China-Russia ties as “conducive to peace”, as per China’s foreign ministry. The two sides vowed to deepen their partnership and declared a “no-limits friendship”.

“Russian and Chinese are brothers forever,” Putin reportedly said. The Russian leader characterised relations between Moscow and Beijing, quoting a 1940s song. Speaking ahead of a concert dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the Russia-China partnership, Putin was quoted by TASS as saying, “…There is a famous song from that time, it was created 75 years ago, but is often sung today: there is a quite famous line in it: ‘Russian and Chinese are brothers forever’.”

“I am sure that we will continue to strengthen the fraternal spirit of the harmonious Russian-Chinese partnership,” the Russian president was quoted as saying.

“Political solution” to Ukraine war

Following the meeting, China’s Xi said he and Putin agreed on the need for a “political solution” to the Ukraine conflict, news agency AFP reported.

“China’s position on this issue has always been clear,” Xi said in footage broadcast by Russian state television. That position included “respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries,” as well as “respecting the reasonable security concerns of all sides”, the Chinese leader was quoted by the Moscow Times as saying.

President Xi and President Putin later met again in Zhongnanhai and had an in-depth exchange of views on the Ukraine crisis. “China will continue to play a constructive role in promoting the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis,” a Chinese spokesperson said.

‘Deepening’ Russia-China ties – 10 deals signed

The two world leaders signed and issued a Joint Statement on “Deepening the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership of Coordination for the New Era”.

TASS reported that the Russian and Chinese delegations signed 10 joint documents. This included the declaration on comprehensive partnership signed by Putin and Jinping. The rest of the documents were signed by other top officials.

The joint statement announced plans for expanded joint military drills, but provided little by way of detail, the Guardian reported. “Moscow and Beijing will continue bolstering trust and cooperation in the military sphere and expand the scale of joint drills and military training,” the document reads.

The agreements included one on an initiative to develop the Bolshoy Ussuriysky Island, protocols on requirements for beef and other products exported to China, a deal to create the Land of Big Cats cross-border reserve, a memorandum on holding a BRICS Expert Forum, agreements on media cooperation, information exchange, and cooperation between business associations, TASS reported.

“Besides this, Russia and China also plan to increase mutual tourist flow to 2 million trips in 2024,” Russian Minister of Economic Development Maxim Reshetnikov said during a visit to China.

Russia and China also signed an agreement to increase the level of investment cooperation and guarantee the protection of rights and interests of investors, as per the joint statement cited by TASS.

Russia-China ties ‘stabilising force’

Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin framed Russia-China ties as a “stabilising force in a chaotic world” as they met in Beijing, news agency AFP reported.

In the meeting, Xi told Putin, whom he has previously described as an “old friend,” that China-Russia relations were “conducive to peace”. Putin, in turn, told Xi the two countries’ relations were “stabilizing factors in the international arena,” the Moscow Times reported.

“Relations between Russia and China are not opportunistic and not directed against anyone,” Putin said, according to a Kremlin readout.

Amid the key meeting, a Chinese government spokesperson informed that the country is ready to work with Russia “to stay each other’s good neighbour, a good friend and good partner that trust each other”.

The two countries also “continue to consolidate the lasting friendship between the two peoples, and jointly pursue respective national development and revitalization and uphold fairness and justice in the world,” the spokesperson added.

A Chinese government spokesperson said in a post on X that the China-Russia relationship “has become a prime example of a new form of international relations as well as good-neighbourly relations between two major countries.”

Russia-China Vs US

X and Putin’s joint statement mentioned the “new era” that proclaimed opposition to the US on a host of security issues and a shared view on everything from Taiwan and Ukraine to North Korea and cooperation on new peaceful nuclear technologies and finance, Reuters reported.

The statement singled out the United States for particular criticism. “The United States still thinks in terms of the Cold War and is guided by the logic of bloc confrontation, putting the security of ‘narrow groups’ above regional security and stability, which creates a security threat for all countries in the region,” the joint statement said. 

“The US must abandon this behaviour,” it added, as per Reuters.

Meanwhile, Putin and Xi reportedly accused the US of planning to station missile systems around the world that “pose a direct threat to the security of Russia and China.

Concert to celebrate 75 years of China-Russia ties

During Putin’s two-day state visit to China, the Russian president and Xi attended the opening ceremony of the China-Russia Years of Culture and a concert celebrating the 75th anniversary of diplomatic ties.

China President Xi said that holding thematic years in each other’s countries is a fine tradition of China-Russia cultural exchanges. “It is also a unique feature and highlight in the bilateral relationship,” he said.

He went on to say that the official launch of the China-Russia Years of Culture “will add new impetus to the lasting friendship between the two countries and to mutual understanding and affinity between the two peoples”.

The Chinese government’s spokesperson said that over the past 75 years, China and Russia together had found a new path for major countries and neighbouring countries to treat each other with respect and pursue friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation.

Tea ceremony

Xi and Putin held informal talks on Thursday evening while sipping tea. As per Reuters, informal chats between the leaders and senior officials of both sides were held over tea and dinner later on Thursday are expected to be key to the two-day trip.

A spokesperson of the Chinese government shared a picture of Xi and Putin during the tea ceremony.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Kashmir Monitor staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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