TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — The leaders of Russia and China met Wednesday in Beijing and called for close foreign policy coordination, as concerns grow about possible conflicts with the West over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and Beijing’s rising threats against Taiwan.
At their morning meeting, Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin discussed trade and the 10th anniversary of Xi’s trademark Belt and Road Initiative that has built highways, ports and power plants across Asia, the Middle East and elsewhere.
The policy has left many states deep in debt to Chinese banks, and the attempt to pump new life into it comes at a time when China’s own economy has slowed considerably due to huge overinvestment in real estate.
“In the current difficult conditions, close foreign policy coordination is especially required,” Putin said in his opening remarks.
“So, in terms of bilateral relations, we are moving forward very confidently,” he said, noting that bilateral trade was on track to surpass a record $200 billion this year.
China is a key customer for Russian oil and gas, providing Moscow with an economic lifeline in the face of punishing Western sanctions imposed over its campaign against Ukraine.
Just weeks before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last February, Putin met with Xi in Beijing and the sides signed an agreement pledging a “no-limits” relationship. Beijing’s attempts to present itself as a neutral peace broker in Russia’s war on Ukraine have been widely dismissed by the international community.
China, meanwhile, has increased military harassment of self-ruled Taiwan, the island democracy it claims as its own to be united by force if necessary.