West’s ploys meet united stance by China, Russia as exemplified by leaders’ rapport
"Dear President Xi Jinping, my dear friend, nice to see you. I send you my regards!" With a sincere smile and a warm wave, Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered these words as he and President Xi began their second virtual meeting of 2021 just before the year ran to a close.
Xi, calling Putin “my old friend” in his opening remarks, noted that China and Russia have become major champions of multilateralism and international fairness and justice.
The meeting was the 37th to take place between the two leaders since 2013, marking the culmination of intensive diplomatic interactions in 2021.
In May, the two leaders attended, via video, a launch ceremony for projects relating to cooperation in nuclear energy. The following month, a virtual summit was held to extend a key treaty on good neighborliness and friendly cooperation. Then, in August, the presidents followed up these initiatives with a phone discussion.
Russian newspaper Kommersant said the frequent discussions between Xi and Putin serve to further promote bilateral cooperation in the face of the West’s containment policy against China and Russia. Each side views the other as a pillar of support in counteracting the external pressures brought against them.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta, another newspaper in Russia, said the talks have also helped generate contracts for the production of more than 150 million doses of the Russian-developed COVID-19 vaccines Sputnik V and Sputnik Light with six Chinese companies. The arrangements make China the main producer of the Russian vaccines, the newspaper reported.
The newspaper said the year-end meeting between Xi and Putin was held when the two countries were in particular need of each other’s support amid rising international tensions. The leaders discussed the aggressive rhetoric of the United States and the NATO alliance that it leads during the meeting, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. The West has been insinuating that Moscow is setting the stage to invade Ukraine, while the Kremlin is pressing NATO for a guarantee on Russia’s security.
The Russian government has, on many occasions, criticized the announcement from the US and some other Western countries of not sending a delegation of government officials to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. Putin has accepted Xi’s invitation to attend the Games, which start early next month. The Russian leader’s visit will continue the tradition of the two nations celebrating major events together.
During their December meeting, Xi said he has been looking forward to a face-to-face meeting with Putin, scheduled to take place during the opening of the Games. Putin’s attendance demonstrates Russia’s active show of support for China’s hosting of the global sporting event, the Chinese president said.
Andrey Ostrovsky, deputy director of the Institute of Far Eastern Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences, said Moscow and Beijing should further strengthen their trade and economic relations and bolster cooperation on military and national security matters.
In October, Chinese and Russian warships conducted joint naval drills in the western Pacific Ocean for the first time. Beijing and Moscow said the exercises were aimed at maintaining peace and stability in the volatile region.