Xi meets Russia's Putin in Astana, urging conservation of unique value in bilateral cooperation
Published: Jul 04, 2024 12:29 AM
China Russia (file photo) Photo: VCG

China Russia (file photo) Photo: VCG

China and Russia should continuously conserve the unique value in China-Russia relations, and explore the internal driving force of bilateral cooperation, Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Wednesday while meeting with his old friend Russian President Vladimir Putin in Astana, Kazakhstan, on the sidelines of the three-day Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit. 

Chinese experts said the frequent interactions between the leaders of the two major countries, against the backdrop of the current complex international landscape, are crucial for promoting peace and stability, while playing a guiding role in driving development in the Eurasian region. 

Xi said that facing an international situation fraught with turbulence and changes, the two countries should keep upholding the original aspiration of lasting friendship, and sticking to the determination of benefiting the people, according to the Xinhua News Agency. 

The two countries should also make efforts to safeguard their legitimate rights and interests and safeguard the basic norms governing international relations, Xi said.

The two leaders' last meeting took place from May 16 to 17, when Putin paid a state visit to China, his first overseas trip after the Russian leader was sworn in for a new term. 

Experts said such high frequency of meetings signifies that under pressure from the West, Russia's determination to "turn to the East" is becoming more rock-solid. 

"This is especially important given today's complex and chaotic world situation. And with the upcoming US presidential election, the international landscape is anticipated to become even more complicated," Cui Heng, a scholar from the Shanghai-based China National Institute for SCO International Exchange and Judicial Cooperation, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

Echoing Cui, Yang Jin, an associate research fellow with the Institute of Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the close interaction between Xi and Putin is crucial for maintaining regional stability and peace, as well as setting the direction for advancing regional development.

The issue of counter-terrorism is the focus of this edition of the SCO summit, and it will also very likely be discussed at bilateral levels, Cui said. 

"Russia this year has experienced a number of deadly terrorist attacks, and the risk of terrorism resurging in the Eurasian continent is becoming increasingly evident. The importance of counter-terrorism cooperation within the SCO for China and Russia is therefore becoming more prominent," he noted. 

Given the security deficit in the region and the lack of effectiveness for existing security mechanisms, the SCO has stepped up, taking joint actions to combat the "three evils" - terrorism, separatism and religious extremism, as well as in cross-border law enforcement cooperation, Cui said. 

Practical cooperation, especially how to eliminate Western pressure and resistance, to better promote the steady development of trade exchanges between the two countries, is likely to be a major topic between the two leaders, Yang told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

"This includes specific areas such as energy, cross-border transportation and new-energy sectors. Additionally, the two leaders may also discuss the construction of a new natural gas pipeline project between China and Russia, as well as the deepening of cooperation in Central Asia," Yang said. 

While the gathering of developing countries in Kazakhstan is focusing on promoting joint development, Western media is sparing no effort to smear this partnership in an attempt to create divisions. 

CNN said in a Tuesday report that Beijing and Moscow are pushing to "transform the grouping from a regional security bloc into a geopolitical counterweight to Western institutions led by the US." 

Refuting such claims, Yang said the SCO member states are more eager to address their most urgent issues of stability and development through close economic and trade cooperation, as well as cooperation in transportation and infrastructure, rather than engaging in power games among major countries. 

Also on Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal wrote that Beijing and Moscow are "going from 'no limits' friendship to frenemies in Russia's backyard," claiming that Central Asia is moving further into China's orbit as Russia loosens its grip on the former Soviet republics. 

Such statements underestimate Central Asian countries by treating them as "subordinate" to major powers, a typical hegemonic mentality of the West, experts said. 

"They [Central Asian countries] are well aware of what they need, and they are not mere pawns to be fought over," Cui remarked. 

Cooperation with China is a genuine need to fulfill their national interests, and the impetus comes from the complementarity of China-Central Asia economic and trade ties.

"Central Asia boasts abundant resources and serves as a crucial transportation hub, meanwhile, Central Asia needs a neighbor like China to provide funding, technology, and a huge market to stabilize their economies," Yang said.