China’s No. 3 party leader reaffirms support for Russia’s vital interests

BEIJING (CAIXIN GLOBAL) – Speaker of the Chinese parliament Li Zhanshu reaffirmed during a trip to Russia last week that China is willing to continue to support its neighbour’s vital interests and to keep working with Moscow in fighting back against foreign interference and sanctions, according to state media reports.

The four-day visit came as Russian troops reportedly have been retreating from some areas they controlled in eastern Ukraine in the face of a counter-offensive that has recaptured thousands of kilometres of territory over the last several days.

Li, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), met Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday (Sept 7) at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia. He told the Russian leader that China and Russia will “firmly support each other’s core interest and on issues of major concern,” the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.

The 72-year-old No. 3 in the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) also briefed the Russian president about the CCP’s 20th National Congress, which is scheduled to take place in Beijing in mid-October, according to Xinhua.

Putin hailed the progress of the Sino-Russian strategic partnership, saying that trade between the two countries will soon reach US$200 billion (S$279.2 billion), a trading target set by their prime ministers in 2019, Russia’s official Tass news agency reported.

The Russian president also confirmed he plans to meet his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit on Thursday and Friday in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, Tass reported. On Monday, Beijing announced Xi would attend the summit, which will be his first trip abroad since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic nearly three years ago.

Meeting his Russian counterpart, State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin in Moscow on Thursday, Li said Russia is fighting back well against the US in the situation around Ukraine.

“As far as Ukraine is concerned, we also have a full understanding of Russia’s concerns and Russia’s position. I think that the crux of the Ukraine crisis is a worthy Russian response to American provocation,” Li was quoted by Tass as saying.

Li said the US seeks to transform the Ukraine crisis into “a long-term, complicating and expansive one,” according to Tass. China has long supported Moscow’s security concerns over Nato’s eastward expansion and blame the US-led military alliance for the conflict in Ukraine.

“The United States will not stop its provocations easily. We will not accept it either, we will not give in to their provocations,” he said, according to Tass.

Li also praised Russia’s support for China on the issue of Taiwan and suggested that the two legislatures should further cooperate on legal efforts to counter foreign interference, sanctions and extraterritorial jurisdiction, according to Xinhua.

This story was originally published by Caixin Global.