Chinese and Russian leaders are expected to meet on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Uzbekistan.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin are expected to meet next week in Uzbekistan, as Beijing and Moscow ramp up economic cooperation in the face of Western-led criticism and sanctions.
The two leaders will meet on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit to be held from September 15-16, Russian Ambassador to China Andrey Denisov told reporters on Wednesday.
The meeting is the latest sign of warming ties between China and Russia, which have declared “borderless” friendship amid mounting economic challenges at home and increasingly strained relations with the United States and its allies abroad.
Russia’s state-run energy giant Gazprom said on Tuesday it had signed an agreement with China to settle gas payments in yuan and ruble rather than in US dollars – part of Moscow’s drive to reduce its dependence on the US financial system after it was hit. With numerous rounds of sanctions due to its war in Ukraine.
Xi Putin’s talks will be the first time the two men have met face to face since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, and come as the Chinese leader is expected to start his first foreign trip since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic with a visit to Kazakhstan next week.
The meeting also comes just weeks before Xi is expected to secure an unprecedented third term in power at the ruling Communist Party’s main congress scheduled for mid-October.
Alicia Garcia-Herrero, chief Asia-Pacific economist at Natixis in Hong Kong, said she expects Xi and Putin to announce joint economic projects in Central Asia, including new energy pipelines.
“I think Xi Jinping will get something important from a security and economic point of view in Central Asia,” Garcia Herrero told Al Jazeera, describing the timing of their meeting two months before the G20 summit as “bold.”
Putin will still sell it as a victory because Xi Jinping is visiting him, or at least meeting him, before Biden. So Putin will pay the price, in my view.”
Garcia Herrero said the talks could also lead to the announcement of Chinese investment or support for certain sectors of the embattled Russian economy.
The Russian economy has suffered from widespread sanctions, with gross domestic product falling 4 percent in the second quarter.
The Chinese economy is also under severe pressure due to a very strict “zero COVID” strategy that continues to enforce lockdowns and border controls as the epidemic approaches its third year.
Beijing has refused to condemn Moscow’s invasion and has opposed sanctions targeting large swathes of the Russian economy.
China has also boosted economic cooperation with its partner, such as increasing imports of Russian oil and lifting import restrictions on Russian wheat, although some Chinese state-owned financial institutions have distanced themselves from the country for fear of violating sanctions.
Speaking via video link at the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum in June, Xi said he expected trade between China and Russia to set “new records” in the coming months, which was a testament to the “great cooperation between our two countries,” according to a translation by TV. Russian government.
Kendo Xu, a senior fellow at the Panjol Institute in Beijing, said the meeting between Xi and Putin indicated that the two countries would continue to pursue a “normal relationship” and share a “new vision” of world order.
China and India are among 15 countries to join the Russian-led Vostok 2022 military exercises in the Far East; China and Russia have agreed on the price of gas supplies via a pipeline running from Western Siberia to China. They agreed to use the yuan and the ruble to replace the dollar in payments for gas supplies.
“Their relations are expected to expand and deepen in a variety of areas with the upcoming summit between the two leaders, mostly due to strong political trust and economic integration, and in part due to US attacks on both Beijing and Moscow.”
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