China backs Putin in horror warning to West as Xi vows to support Russia’s ‘sovereignty’

China confident of ‘getting away with’ Russia backing says Leoni

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Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Beijing has remained eerily quiet over the war, however, China has urged Russia to find a peaceful solution to the conflict, while at the same time condemning western punitive measures against Moscow. Yet the latest rhetoric emerging from China suggests President Xi has taken a more open and frank stance in favour of his ally in Moscow. The news comes as Mr Xi held talks with Putin over the telephone.

Speaking of the current Chinese stance, Mr Xi said: “China is willing to push for the steady and long-term development of bilateral pragmatic cooperation.

“China is willing to mutually support Russia on core interests and matters of paramount concern, such as sovereignty and security, as well as achieve closer strategic cooperation.”

China’s stance had previously been labelled as “pro-Russia neutrality”, and to date, has not acted in supplying Russia with arms or technology.

Yet for China, the Russian war with Ukraine could have an economic impact as bilateral trade slows down as a consequence of sanctions placed on Russia.

Mr Xi, speaking of the current climate between Beijing and Moscow, said: “From this year, facing global turbulence and transformations, Sino-Russian relations have maintained good momentum for development.

“The economic and trade cooperation between the two countries is progressing smoothly.”

The Chinese premier was also highly sensitive in the language used, avoiding the words “war” and “ceasefire”, and opting for more diplomatic terms such as the “Ukraine crisis” and “reasonably resolved” conclusion.

Mr Xi continued the rhetoric by calling the war a “special military operation”.

A readout following the conversation saw Moscow return the favour in kind.
Reports suggest Putin has reiterated his support for China over the sovereignty of the island of Taiwan, which Beijing says is part of the One China Policy.

Taiwan claims it is an independent state and has received the backing of the United States for defensive help should China invade.

Some analysts have suggested the Russian invasion of Ukraine could embolden China to perform a similar move on the tiny island nation.

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Yang Jin, an expert at the Institute of Russian, Eastern European, and Central Asian Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said of the conversation between Putin and Mr Xi: “This shows that the strategic firmness of China to keep developing ties and promote cooperation with Russia in the fields of economy and trade, even if the West is pressuring China to join their sanctions against Russia.”

In another diplomatic show of support, leaders from France, Germany and Italy are expected to travel to Kyiv soon, pledging their support to President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The European Union could also officially recommend Ukraine as a candidate country in the near future, in a sign of solidarity with the war-torn nation.

For more stories like this, follow Defence and Security Correspondent James Lee on Twitter @JamesLee_DE

Meanwhile, President Xi is pencilled in to give a video address at the widely-boycotted St Petersburg International Economic Forum on Friday.

It is unclear whether Mr Xi will announce new projects or repeat the same rhetorical support will be an indicator of whether Beijing is prepared to take the strategic contest with the West to a new level.

Putin will officiate the forum, where only two fellow leaders will join him personally: Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and his Kazakh counterpart Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

Belarus has remained Russia’s strongest ally in the conflict to date, allowing Russian troops to manoeuvre through the country to attack Ukraine.

Although troops from Belarus have yet to formally engage in the conflict, President Alexander Lukashenko has hinted his forces would be ready if needed.

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