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21 June, 2024
 
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Xi and Putin reinforce alliance with joint critique of US actions

China and Russia condemn western sanctions and asset seizures

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China's President Xi Jinping and Russia's President Vladimir Putin on Thursday pledged a ''new era'' of partnership between their nations, presenting a united front against what they described as the United States' aggressive Cold War mentality and global destabilization efforts.

In a ceremonial welcome outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Xi greeted Putin on a red carpet flanked by People's Liberation Army soldiers. According to a report on Reuters, the event featured a 21-gun salute on Tiananmen Square and children waving Chinese and Russian flags.

The two leaders reaffirmed their "no limits" partnership, initially declared in February 2022 just before Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which has since sparked the deadliest conflict in Europe since World War II.

Xi, 70, and Putin, 71, signed a joint statement on Thursday that outlined their shared opposition to U.S. policies on security issues, including Taiwan, Ukraine, and North Korea. They also agreed on cooperation in nuclear technology and finance.

"The China-Russia relationship today is hard-earned, and the two sides need to cherish and nurture it," Xi told Putin. "China is willing to ... jointly achieve the development and rejuvenation of our respective countries and work together to uphold fairness and justice in the world."

Facing pressure from NATO-supplied Ukrainian forces and a concerted U.S. effort to counter its military and economic rise, China and Russia have found common geopolitical cause. Xi has described their relationship as an opportunity to drive unprecedented global changes, a view many analysts interpret as a challenge to the U.S.-led international order.

Both nations have portrayed the West as decadent and in decline, with China challenging U.S. supremacy in areas such as quantum computing, synthetic biology, espionage, and military power. However, both face significant challenges, including China's slowing economy and NATO's expansion in response to Russia's actions in Ukraine.

The U.S. sees China as its main competitor and Russia as its primary nation-state threat, criticizing both for their authoritarian governance and suppression of free speech. President Biden has labeled Xi a "dictator" and Putin a "killer" and a "crazy SOB," drawing rebukes from Beijing and Moscow.

Putin's visit to China, his first foreign trip since starting his new six-year term, underscores his priorities and the strength of his ties with Xi. The visit follows U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken's trip to China, which did little to weaken the Sino-Russian relationship.

The joint statement emphasized deepening military ties and defense cooperation between China and Russia, criticizing the United States for its Cold War mindset and bloc confrontations, which they argue threaten regional security. It also condemned Western efforts to redirect Russian assets to support Ukraine.

State Department Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel criticized China's support for Russia, stating that Beijing "cannot have its cake and eat it too" by fostering relations with Europe while aiding Russia's defense industry.

Following severe Western sanctions over the Ukraine war, Putin has increasingly aligned Russia with China, now its most powerful ally and top buyer of crude oil. This shift has raised concerns among some Russian elites about over-reliance on China.

Xi and Putin agreed that a political settlement is the preferred solution to the Ukraine crisis. Putin, who arrived for a two-day visit, expressed gratitude for China's efforts to resolve the conflict and briefed Xi on the latest developments on the front lines.

In their talks, described by Putin as "warm and comradely," the leaders discussed strengthening ties in sectors such as nuclear energy, food supplies, and Chinese car manufacturing in Russia. Notably absent from Putin's delegation was Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller, who was in Iran for talks.

Xi and Putin will participate in a gala celebrating 75 years since the Soviet Union recognized the People's Republic of China in 1949. It remains unclear if Putin will make additional stops in Asia.

[With information sourced from Reuters]

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