Xi Teams Up With Putin In First Trip Abroad Since Pandemic

Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet with Russia’s Vladimir Putin and other world leaders Wednesday in his first foray outside of China since before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Xi will attend the 22nd meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a regional economic, security and political forum in which Russia and China are the major contributors, from Sept. 14 to Sept. 16 in Uzbekistan, the Chinese foreign ministry confirmed Monday. The meeting signals improving relations between Russia and China as Putin deals with a brutal extended conflict in Ukraine and Xi is set to win a third term in November, according to Reuters.

Xi’s visit with Putin “shows that China is willing to not only continue ‘business as usual’ with Russia but even show explicit support and accelerate the formation of a stronger China-Russia alignment,” Alexander Korolev, senior lecturer in politics and international relations at UNSW Sydney, told Reuters.

Beijing initially declined to join other world leaders in condemning the invasion at the UN but has also kept a tight lid on any overt statement or activity that could be construed as supporting the war. Since then, Russia has lost massive amounts of armor and suffered huge casualties.

Ukraine launched a counteroffensive on two fronts in September and has retaken some 1,000 square miles of territory in the northeastern region as of Sept. 10, according to research from the Institute for The Study of War.

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China and Russia committed to a relationship with “no ‘forbidden’ areas of cooperation” in February, weeks before Putin invaded Ukraine, Reuters reported.

However, trade between the two countries has increased by nearly one third in the first seven months of 2022, according to Reuters.

In addition, Putin met with a Chinese delegation last week at a meeting of a Russian-led regional economic initiative, between Sept. 7 and Sept. 8, Russian state-run news outlet Tass reported. Russian and Chinese armies performed joint maneuvers with other troop contingents from SCO countries at the Vostok war games days before, shining a spotlight on Russia’s growing cooperation with China and showing Russia’s military might.

“China is ready to work together with Russia, to continuously implement high-level strategic cooperation, protect the common interests of the two countries, and promote the development of the international order in a more just and reasonable direction,” Chinese Communist Party Central Foreign Affairs Commission director Yang Jiechi said, according to Tass.

The SCO summit, which Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi and Indian president Narendra Modi are also expected to attend, could demonstrate growing cooperation between nations opposed to the U.S., AFP reported. Iran may sign an agreement to formally join the SCO, TASS reported.

Xi departs China ahead of a Communist Party Congress meeting in October that will likely agree to secure a third five-year presidential term, further entrenching Xi’s power over the Chinese state.

“It is all about Xi in my view: he wants to show just how confident he is domestically and to be seen as the international leader of nations opposed to Western hegemony,” George Magnus, author of “Red Flags,” told Reuters.

The Chinese and Russian foreign ministries did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.

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