Xi, Putin pledge more coordination
Beijing and Moscow pledged on Wednesday to bolster cooperation on international affairs, undertake more joint actions to protect their security interests and oppose hegemony and a Cold War mentality.
In their second virtual meeting this year, President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin pledged joint action to thwart any attempts to interfere in the domestic affairs and legitimate interests of both nations and to uphold international justice and fairness.
Xi criticized certain forces in the international community for arbitrarily interfering in the domestic affairs of China and Russia in the name of "democracy" or "human rights", saying that such actions constitute a gross violation of international laws and universally recognized norms of international relations.
The two nations should more loudly voice their positions on global governance and come up with concrete and pragmatic plans on global issues, including the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, he said.
Putin said Russia resolutely opposes attempts to interfere in both countries' domestic affairs or contain the legitimate development interests of both nations. The Russian president added that his nation will work to safeguard international fairness and justice and to protect global strategic stability and security.
In his opening remarks, Xi referred to Putin as "my old friend" before commending him for supporting China in upholding its core interests and opposing attempts to sow divisions between the two nations.
He recounted the remarkable progress in pragmatic bilateral cooperation this year, which he said showcased strengths in both politics and opportunities.
In the first 11 months of this year, Sino-Russian trade reached a historic high of 843.41 billion yuan ($132.5 billion), a 24 percent year-on-year increase, and surpassed the level of 2020, according to the General Administration of Customs.
The virtual meeting, the 37th meeting between the two presidents since 2013, marked the culmination of intensive diplomatic interactions this year. In May, the two leaders jointly attended a launching ceremony of bilateral nuclear energy cooperation projects. In June, a virtual summit was held to extend a key treaty on good neighborliness and friendly cooperation, and the two leaders had a phone discussion in August.
Putin has accepted Xi's invitation to come to China for the Beijing Winter Olympics, a move that will continue the tradition of the two nations celebrating major events together.
Xi said he has been looking forward to a face-to-face meeting with Putin, scheduled for the opening of the Winter Olympics in February, which he said would be an active show of support for China's hosting of the event.
With China and Russia set to host the Year of Sports Exchanges in 2022 and 2023, Xi said the two sides should use the events as opportunities to build bridges and bonds, which will enable the people of both countries to enhance their mutual understanding and friendship.
Xi expounded on the people-centered development philosophy of the Communist Party of China, saying that the goal of the Party is both grand and well-grounded, that is, to enable all Chinese people to live a better life.
Beijing will, as always, support Moscow in its efforts to maintain the nation's long-term stability, Xi said. He added he is willing to conduct candid exchanges with Putin on experience in governance, jointly guide the way for the high-level growth of bilateral ties and lead the two nations to attain national rejuvenation.
As for fighting the pandemic, Xi called on both sides to meet each other halfway to come up with more concrete measures to tackle the challenges, while preventing cross-border transmission of the pandemic.
China stands ready to scale up bilateral cooperation in testing as well as the research and development of vaccines and pharmaceuticals, he said.
The two sides must also consolidate cooperation in traditional energy sectors and further cooperation in the new energy and nuclear sectors, he said.
Xi also expounded on bilateral cooperation within the frameworks of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the BRICS bloc and the United Nations Security Council.
As for democracy, Xi reiterated that it is only up to the people of a nation to decide whether it is a democracy and how to better achieve democracy.
He urged both sides to enhance dialogue and coordination to guide the international community to form a rightful view on democracy and protect the legitimate democratic rights of various nations.
Putin said Russia-China relations are at an unprecedented historic best. The two nations, with a high level of strategic mutual trust, have set an example in achieving win-win cooperation on the basis of non-interference in their respective domestic affairs and respecting each other's interests, making their relations a model for international relations in the 21st century, he said.
He said Russia has always opposed attempts to politicize sports, and the nation is willing to enhance bilateral cooperation in trade, economics, oil, gas, finance, aerospace and major strategic programs.
Le Yucheng, vice-minister of foreign affairs, said at a briefing after the meeting that China-Russia relations have stood out among those between major countries as having the highest level of mutual trust, coordination and strategic value.
The ties were widely supported by people from both nations as cooperation has benefited the general public, he said. Natural gas from Russia has played an important role in ensuring China's energy supply and imported products from Russia are immensely popular in the Chinese market.
Chinese businesses, including automakers and cellphone manufacturers, are now firmly establishing themselves in the Russian market, he said.
Lyudmila Matsenko, a member of the Central Board of the Russia-China Friendship Association, said Russian-Chinese cooperation is an important factor in maintaining the balance of power and global stability in the face of multiple challenges.
Danil Bochkov, an expert at the Russian International Affairs Council, said leaders and top government officials have touted the Russia-China strategic partnership as a priority for both sides.
"The idea entails that both states, while prioritizing their international relations with other global actors, give specific attention to contacts with each other first," he said, especially when it came to the COVID-19 response and allegations related to human rights.
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