Leaders agree to closer ties between China and Russia

Leaders agree to closer ties between China and Russia

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin met on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok on Tuesday, agreeing to bolster ties between their countries to counterbalance the United States’ economic power.

The leaders have now met three times in 2018, which President Xi told President Putin reflects the “uniqueness and distinction” of the countries’ relationship, according to Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.

“Both nations have to oppose unilateralism and trade protectionism, and build a new type of international relations and shared human destiny,” President Xi said.

Concerns that the ongoing trade disputes between China and the United States could escalate into a cold war have provided an impetus for closer Sino-Russian relations, while the US has also sanctioned Russia over cyberattacks and its suspected involvement in the poisoning of Sergei Skripal in March.

President Putin acknowledged President Xi’s commitment to closer ties between Russia and China as being based on trust in a range of areas.

“We have a relationship of trust in the sphere of politics, security and defence,” he said.

Their meeting coincides with the start of Vostok 2018, the largest Russian military exercise since 1981, and which involves participation of Chinese and Mongolian troops.

China has sent 3,200 soldiers to join the 100,000 Soviet troops, as well as 1,000 vehicles and 30 aircraft, to participate in drills in Russia’s far east.

Russia and China have denied the exercises are directed towards other countries, but they will take place at the same time as NATO’s Rapid Trident 2018 exercise in Ukraine this week.

China’s Ministry of Defence said its participation would improve its defensive capabilities and strengthen ties with Russia.

President Xi flagged greater cooperation in other areas, including science, technology, and infrastructure, making particular reference to China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” to boost its global trade links.

According to China’s ambassador to Russia, Li Hui, relations between the countries are “at their best in history.”

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