Chinese leader Xi Jinping was praised by Russian President Vladimir Putin for his stance on Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and backed in his confrontations with the US over Taiwan, as the two leaders met for the first time since the conflict in Eastern Europe began.
Xi, on his first trip outside China since the start of the Covid pandemic, met Putin in the ancient Uzbek Silk Road city of Samarkand, where they are attending a summit of The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).
Speaking at their first face-to-face meeting since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began, Putin praised Xi for his position on the war in Ukraine but also said he understood Beijing had “questions and concern” over the conflict.
China has refrained from condemning Russia’s operation against Ukraine or calling it an “invasion” in line with the Kremlin, which casts the war as “a special military operation”.
“We highly value the balanced position of our Chinese friends when it comes to the Ukraine crisis,” Putin said. “We understand your questions and concern about this. During today’s meeting, we will of course explain our position.”
Putin also explicitly backed China over Taiwan. China held blockade-style military drills around Taiwan after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the island last month. Taiwan’s government strongly rejects China‘s sovereignty claims.
“We intend to firmly adhere to the principle of ‘One China‘,” Putin said. “We condemn provocations by the United States and their satellites in the Taiwan Strait.”
Though Russia and China have in the past been rivals and have fought wars, Putin and Xi share a view of the world which sees the West as decadent and in decline just as China challenges the United States’ supremacy.
China will work with Russia to “instil stability and positive energy in a chaotic world”, Chinese President Xi Jinping told Russian President Vladimir Putin at a meeting on the sidelines of the summit in Uzbekistan.
“In the face of changes in the world, in our times and of history, China is willing to work with Russia to play a leading role in demonstrating the responsibility of major powers, and to instil stability and positive energy into a world in turmoil,” Xi told Putin.
- Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard