BEIJING – China’s President Xi Jinping met Russia’s Vladimir Putin on Friday (Feb 4), holding his first face-to-face talks with a world leader in over two years, hailing “unprecedented” ties between the neighbors as tensions with the West rise.
Xi has not left China since January 2020, when the country was dealing with its first COVID-19 epidemic and had sealed off the central city of Wuhan, where the virus was discovered.
He is now launching a frenzy of diplomatic activity as more than 20 foreign leaders fly in for the Winter Olympics, which China believes will be a soft-power triumph and a change away from a build-up marred by a diplomatic boycott and COVID-19 worries.
The two presidents met in the Chinese capital as their governments attempt to strengthen ties in the face of mounting Western criticism. According to CCTV, Xi stated that the meeting would “inject more vitality into China-Russia relations.”
According to a document agreed upon by the countries, they “oppose further NATO expansion” and ask for the US-led defense bloc to forsake “Cold War period” practices, the Kremlin claimed in a subsequent briefing.
Moscow is seeking assistance after deploying 100,000 troops near Ukraine’s border spurred Western nations to warn of an invasion and promise “grave repercussions” in the event of a Russian attack.