China’s Xi thanks Putin for Russian partnership in face of Western pressure

Chinese President Xi Jinping has thanked his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin for maintaining strong ties between the two nations despite pressure from the US and its partners in Europe, as tensions flare between East and West.

Speaking on Wednesday as the two heads of state held talks via video link, Xi remarked that “the world has entered a period of turbulence and great change. Sino-Russian relations, having withstood all kinds of tests, have shown strong vitality and gained new breath.”

The Chinese leader expressed his gratitude to Putin for not allowing the West to “drive a wedge” between Moscow and Beijing.

During opening remarks, the Russian leader hailed the ties between the world’s largest country and its most populous, proclaiming that “a new model of cooperation has been formed between our nations, based, among other things, on foundations such as non-interference in internal affairs and respect for each other’s interests and a determination to turn the common border into a belt of eternal peace and good neighborliness.”

The talks between the two presidents came amid strained relations with Washington and several of its partners across the world. Kremlin foreign policy advisor Yuri Ushakov said on the same day that Xi and Putin paid particular attention “to the need to intensify efforts to form an independent financial infrastructure to service trade operations between Russia and China” – one that “cannot be influenced by third countries.”

Earlier this month, US Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland said that the White House, alongside a handful of Western European nations, was considering completely blocking Moscow out of the global financial system should Russian troops stage an invasion of Ukraine.

Her remarks came just one day after American outlet Bloomberg had hinted that Washington could target the country’s major banks and even disconnect Moscow from the SWIFT network.

Speculation has also swirled in the West that Beijing could order a military operation to seize Taiwan, which it views as an inalienable part of its territory. In early December, US Assistant Defense Secretary for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Ely Ratner sounded the alarm, accusing China’s army of “likely preparing for a contingency to unify” the island with the mainland by force. China has frequently condemned Washington’s close ties with Taipei as interference in its sovereign affairs.

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