BEIJING (AP) — Chinese state media say the country’s top lawmaker spoke out against sanctions against Russia during a recent visit to the country, underscoring China’s support for Moscow in its war against the Ukraine despite claims of neutrality.
The official Xinhua news agency said Li Zhanshu called for greater cooperation in “fighting outside interference, sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction, among others”, during a meeting with Russian lawmakers. Thursday.
Li also held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin ahead of a scheduled meeting this month between Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping at a regional rally in Uzbekistan. It would mark Xi’s first trip outside of China since the pandemic began in early 2020.
Li is a member of the Communist Party’s all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee and is considered one of Xi’s closest confidants, with the two having worked together for decades. Ranked third in the Communist Party hierarchy, Li is the highest-ranking official to travel overseas since the pandemic began.
The meeting at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization – a political, economic and security forum dominated by China and Russia – comes as Putin faces setbacks in his bid to take over Ukraine and Xi prepares for a congress of the ruling Communist Party which should grant him a third five-year term as head.
Xinhua said Russia also backed Beijing’s condemnation of US President Nancy Pelosi’s visit last month to Taiwan, the self-governing island democracy that China is threatening to annex by force.
“Li thanked the Russian side for firmly supporting China on the Taiwan issue,” Xinhua reported.
Russia has also backed China against international criticism, including at the United Nations, over its mass incarceration of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities.
The world’s two main authoritarian states, China and Russia, have increasingly aligned their foreign policies against the United States and other liberal democracies. Weeks before Russia invaded Ukraine, Xi hosted Putin in Beijing in early February, during which the parties issued a joint statement declaring: “The friendship between the two states knows no bounds, there are no ‘prohibited’ areas of cooperation.”
In this statement, Russia also said that it “confirms that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China and opposes any form of Taiwan independence.”
China has firmly refused to criticize or even refer to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as such, and has accused the United States and NATO of provoking the conflict, despite Putin’s statements that he sees Ukraine as a historical part of Russia that must be eliminated as an independent political entity.
Although condemning punitive economic sanctions against Russia, Beijing has not provided military or financial support to Moscow that could trigger legal action by Washington against its companies.
Russia has held extensive military drills that ended last week in the east of the country, involving Chinese forces in another show of growing ties between the two.
According to Xinhua, Li met Putin in the far eastern port city of Vladivostok, as well as Russian Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko and Russian State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin. in Moscow during a visit which took place from Wednesday to Saturday.
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