The Russian diplomat confirmed, on Wednesday, that Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin will meet next week in Uzbekistan on the sidelines of a regional summit, in the first foreign trip of the Chinese president since the beginning of 2020.
• Read also: Putin says it is ‘impossible to isolate Russia’
“In less than ten days, a new meeting of our leaders will be held at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit,” the Russian ambassador to China, Andrei Denisov, announced in statements sent to AFP by his embassy.
He added that the two presidents “have a lot to say to each other, both on bilateral issues and on international issues.”
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit will be held on September 15-16 in Samarkand (southeast of Uzbekistan), which is rich in historical monuments and is located on the ancient Silk Road.
This organization, which was built as a counterweight to Western influence, brings together China, Russia, four Central Asian countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan) as well as India and Pakistan.
Andrei Denisov, an experienced diplomat and specialist in China, noted that “this summit promises to be interesting, because it will be the first real summit (face to face, editor’s note) since the epidemic.”
Asked about the Russian ambassador’s remarks, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said Wednesday during a regular press conference that she “has no information to provide.”
“The Chinese and Russian presidents maintain close relations by various means,” the ministry then merely noted in a press release sent to AFP.
Beijing in general only confirms the actions of its leaders at the last minute.
Xi Jinping has not left his country since a state visit to Burma in January 2020, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since then, the country has maintained a strict health policy, with mandatory quarantine of all arrivals from abroad and sometimes confining neighborhoods or cities once a few cases have emerged.
Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin met each other in early February in Beijing, to mark the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics, three weeks before the start of Russia’s attack on Ukraine on February 24.
Then Moscow and Beijing signed a joint declaration calling for a “new era” in international relations.
The text also called for an end to American hegemony and denounced the influence of the Western military alliances, NATO and OCOs (Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States).
Since the Russian attack on Ukraine, China has shown its support for Russia affected by Western sanctions. In search of support, outlets and suppliers, Moscow says it is turning to Asia.
Vladimir Putin on Wednesday praised the “increasing role” of the Asia-Pacific region in global affairs in the face of a declining West. The Russian president considered it “impossible” to isolate Russia.
He was speaking at an economic forum in Vladivostok (Russian Far East), which was attended by several senior Asian officials including China’s third-highest leader, Li Zhanshu.
He is the most senior Chinese official to visit Russia since the start of the Russian offensive on Ukraine.
After Russia, Li Zhanshu, 72, will travel to Mongolia, Nepal and South Korea, according to the official New China Agency.
Relations between Beijing and Moscow have solidified in recent years, intensifying their relationship to counterbalance the United States. China, for example, refuses to condemn Russian military action in Ukraine and has criticized Western sanctions.
This alleged trip of Xi Jinping was announced a few weeks before the 20th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), a major political event organized every five years in Beijing.
This meeting will open on October 16. It should allow the Chinese president to obtain an unprecedented third term as general secretary of the political organization that rules China.
Xi Jinping made his first visit outside mainland China in more than two years at the end of June, to go for a few hours to Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous region in the south of the country.
Then he attended the 25th anniversary of the return of the former British colony to China.
“Food trailblazer. Passionate troublemaker. Coffee fanatic. General analyst. Certified creator. Lifelong music expert. Alcohol specialist.”