China’s foreign minister has held talks with his Russian counterpart in Moscow as the two countries inch closer amid fraying ties with the West over the Ukraine war and the militarisation of the Pacific.
Wang Yi opened his talks with Sergey Lavrov by hailing “strategic cooperation” between the two countries and their shared commitment to a “multipolar world” and a “more just world order”.
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“China and Russia, as leading global powers and permanent members of the UN Security Council, bear special responsibility for maintaining global strategic stability and global development,” Wang said.
The Moscow trip comes days after Wang held talks with United States President Joe Biden’s National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan in Malta. Sino-US ties have deteriorated in recent years over issues ranging from trade to the Chinese military threat to Taiwan.
China’s top diplomat, who will be in Russia until Thursday, plans to hold strategic security consultations with officials there, the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement.
‘A balance of interests’
Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, emphasised “the importance of Russian-Chinese cooperation for ensuring justice in world affairs, for ensuring a balance of interests in the processes that are developing in a variety of directions”.
He noted that Russia and China will coordinate their efforts during this week’s United Nations General Assembly and other international forums.
Meanwhile, Wang stressed that Russia-China cooperation “isn’t directed against anyone and isn’t influenced by any other countries”.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin have promised to strengthen bilateral ties as Beijing has faced criticism from the West for not condemning Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
China has refrained from taking sides in the conflict, saying that while a country’s territory must be respected, the West needs to consider Russia’s security concerns about NATO expansion.
It has accused the US of prolonging the fighting by providing arms to Ukraine, weaponry the US says Kyiv needs to fight back against Russia.
China and the US have been making efforts to reduce tension, and Beijing and Washington described the talks between Wang and Sullivan, which went on for 12 hours, as “candid, substantive and constructive”.
The relationship between the two countries, global and regional security issues, the Ukraine war and the Taiwan Strait were among the topics of discussion, the White House said in a statement, adding that it was eager to maintain open lines of communication with China to better manage the relationship.
Similar issues were discussed on Monday between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and China’s Vice President Han Zheng.
“The world expects us to responsibly manage our relationship,” Blinken said in brief remarks at the beginning of his meeting with Han. “The United States is committed to doing just that.
“From the perspective of the United States, face-to-face diplomacy is the best way to deal with areas where we disagree, and also the best way to explore areas of cooperation between us.”
The talks between Wang and Sullivan were also aimed at laying the groundwork for a meeting between Biden and Xi later this year.
Ryan Hass, a China expert at the Brookings Institution, said the pace of high-level exchanges between Washington and Beijing suggested that efforts were “purposeful” and not just part of relationship management.
“I expect both sides are working to set the stage for a productive meeting between both leaders in November,” Hass said.
Wang’s trip to Moscow also comes a day after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un left Russia following a six-day visit that included talks with President Vladimir Putin at a far eastern spaceport, visits to aircraft plants and inspections of nuclear-capable strategic bombers as well as an advanced warship.
Kim’s trip fuelled Western concerns about an arms alliance that could boost Russia’s arsenal for fighting in Ukraine.