Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet next week in Uzbekistan, according to a Russian official. It will mark the first time the two leaders have spoken in person since the Ukraine war began in February.
Xi and Putin will meet on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit, which will take place in the Uzbek city of Samarkand on Sept. 15-16, Russian Ambassador to China Andrey Denisov told reporters.
“We are planning a serious, full-fledged meeting of our leaders with a detailed agenda, which we are now, in fact, working on with our Chinese partners,” Denisov said on Sept. 7, according to Russia’s official news agency Tass.
Beijing remained silent on the event. When asked about the plan for Xi’s potential trip, Mao Ning, the spokesperson of the regime’s foreign ministry, said on Wednesday: “I have nothing to offer,” according to The Associated Press.
The announcement came after Kazakhstan said Xi will travel to the country on Sept. 14. The visit has yet to be confirmed by Beijing.
The two schedules, if confirmed, would mark Xi’s first trips outside the country in 32 months. The Chinese leader, who is expected to secure an unprecedented third term in office at the 20th Party Congress in October, hasn’t stepped out of the country since the pandemic took hold. Beijing has implemented a strict “zero-COVID” policy, which has left nearly 300 million residents currently under some form of lockdown, according to estimates by Japanese financial services company Nomura.
Putin is among a handful of foreign leaders Xi has sat down with during the pandemic. In February this year, Putin traveled to Beijing to attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics, an event that major Western countries refused to send any official delegation in protest against the regime’s human rights violations against Uyghurs in the far-western Xinjiang region.
The two men announced a “no limit” partnership during their meeting. A few weeks later, Russia brought war to Ukraine.
Xi hasn’t joined in international sanctions against Russia for the invasion of Ukraine, and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has consistently taken the position that international financial actions against Russia are invalid, thus providing Russia with a vital economic lifeline in Chinese markets.
Russia’s energy giant Gazprom announced on Sept. 6 that it will switch the gas supplies to China to yuan and ruble payment instead of dollars, Reuters reported.
Currently, the CCP continues to heavily censor talk of the war on social media within mainland China and refuses to refer to it as a war, parroting the Russian stance that it’s a “special military operation.”
The Kremlin, in return, has announced support for the CCP’s claims on Taiwan and stated that it opposes international attempts to influence ongoing events in Taiwan, Xinjiang, and Hong Kong.
The last time Xi spoke with Putin was on his 69th birthday. The two leaders had a phone conversation on June 15, during which Xi reaffirmed the commitment to Russia “on issues concerning core interests and major concerns such as sovereignty and security,” according to China’s official news agency Xinhua.
Before next week’s potential meeting, Li Zhanshu, the CCP’s third most important figure, is expected to meet with Putin on Wednesday. Li traveled to Vladivostok for the Eastern Economic Forum.
Meanwhile, the weeks-long war games led by Russia ended on Wednesday. The “Vostok 2020” exercise involved forces from China, India, Mongolia, and other nations. According to China’s state-backed Global Times, the Chinese regime sent 2,000 troops, 300 military vehicles, 21 aircraft, and three warships to participate in the exercises.
Andrew Thornebrooke contributed to this report.
From The Epoch Times