The Russian and Chinese presidents on Wednesday demonstrated their “model” relationship during a video conference, amid full tension with the West, and Vladimir Putin confirmed his visit to the Beijing Winter Olympics.
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The cordial tone of the conversation, broadcast in part by Russian television, contrasts with Western criticism’s salute to Moscow, which is accused of preparing for the invasion of Ukraine, and against Beijing, over Chinese repression in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.
Dithrambek, Vladimir Putin praised the bilateral relationship based on “non-interference”, “respect for the interests of each party” and “the determination to turn the common border into a belt of eternal peace and good neighborliness.”
“I consider these relations a true model of interstate cooperation in the twenty-first century,” the Russian president told his “dear friend” Xi Jinping.
Emphasizing the “vitality” of Russian-Chinese relations, the Chinese president considered that the two countries have become representatives of “true pluralism and the defense of international fairness and justice,” according to the Xinhua news agency.
At the end of the Putin-Xi discussion, the Kremlin’s diplomatic advisor Yuri Ushakov noted that it was an exchange between “two colleagues and two friends.”
This rapprochement contrasts with the less cordial talks the Russian and Chinese leaders have had in recent weeks with US President Joe Biden.
Beijing and Moscow also rejected Biden’s organization last week for a virtual summit on democracy, considering it a hostile operation against them.
According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Xi accused the West of using “democracy” and “human rights” to blatantly interfere in the internal affairs of China and Russia.
The Olympics and Politics
The Kremlin chief confirmed on Wednesday that the two men will meet “in person in Beijing” to mark the opening of the Winter Olympics (February 4-20).
The Chinese leader said he was “impatient,” and the two allies have not seen eye to eye since the pandemic began.
The Russian president finally indicated that he and Xi Jinping oppose “any attempt to politicize sports and the Olympic movement.”
China has denounced the recent decision of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia not to send political representatives to the Olympics in response to human rights abuses, particularly in the Chinese Muslim-majority region (Northwest) Xinjiang.
Moscow considers this “diplomatic boycott” an attempt to politicize the Olympics.
Russia also presents itself as a victim of the West’s anti-Russian policy in the field of sports. For her, the multiple doping scandals that undermine her credibility are exploited by her opponents.
Russia has been accused since 2015 of masterminding an institutionalized doping regime, and its participation in major international competitions has been suspended until 2022.
However, “clean” Russian athletes are allowed to participate as neutral athletes and will be in Beijing. Russian officials, including Mr. Putin, are prohibited from attending international competitions except at the invitation of the head of the host country. This will be the case in Beijing.
Tensions with the West
Moscow and Beijing have seen their respective relations with the West deteriorate over the years and want to project an image of two balanced states. The two permanent members of the UN Security Council have strengthened their diplomatic, economic, military and energy ties.
China is regularly criticized by Washington and its allies over Taiwan, the treatment of the Uyghur Muslim minority, or the restriction of freedoms in the semi-autonomous territory of Hong Kong.
Russia has been blacklisted for its maneuvers on the Ukrainian border, causing some to fear an invasion of Ukraine.
Moscow responds, saying it is threatened by NATO’s increased military presence in Eastern Europe and its support for Kiev.
The issue will be on the table of the European Union summit on Wednesday with the former Soviet republics within the framework of the Eastern Partnership, which Moscow views bleakly.
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