China’s top diplomat & Foreign Minister Wang Yi visits Russia ahead of the possible Xi-Putin meeting

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  • Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will start his four-day official visit to Russia on September 18 where he will hold security talks, the country’s foreign ministry confirmed. 
  • Russia and China have been strategic allies as both countries frequently continue to reiterate their “no limits” partnership and military and economic cooperation. 
  • The ties between the two countries grew closer after Ukraine was invaded by Russia in February last year which was not criticized by China. 
  • In an initial briefing, the Russian foreign ministry stated that Wang will be meeting with his counterpart Sergei Lavrov, and the two leaders will “focus on efforts to strengthen collaboration on the international scene” in their talks. 
  • In the case of the Ukraine war, China has placed itself as a neutral party on the global platform and has also offered an important diplomatic and financial lifeline to Moscow. 

China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, begins on Monday a four-day trip to Russia during which both nations are expected to pledge deeper mutual political trust, readying for a possible landmark visit by President Vladimir Putin to Beijing in October.

Wang, who heads the foreign ministry as well as the ruling Communist Party’s foreign affairs office, will meet Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev for annual security talks, the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement.

The veteran diplomat’s talks with counterpart Sergei Lavrov will cover a “wide range of issues” including “contacts at higher and the highest levels,” the Russian foreign ministry said last week.  Wang is expected to lay the groundwork for Putin’s visit to the Chinese capital for the third Belt and Road Forum after an invitation by President Xi Jinping during a high-profile visit to Moscow in March.

Putin attended China’s first two Belt and Road Forums in 2017 and 2019. But he is not known to have travelled abroad since the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant against him on grounds of illegally deporting hundreds of children from Ukraine. The warrant, issued just days before Xi visited Russia, obligates the court’s 123 member states to arrest Putin and transfer him to the Hague for trial if he enters their territory. However, China is not a party to the Rome Statute that led to the establishment of the ICC in 2002.

On Sept. 1, Putin said he expected to meet Xi soon but did not explicitly confirm that he would travel to China again.  The visit will also see a detailed exchange of views on issues including Ukraine, ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said last week.

Wang last visited Russia in February on the eve of the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, alarming the United States, which accused the two nations at the time of sharing a vision in which “borders could be redrawn by force”. Ahead of this week’s visit, Wang travelled to Malta for hours of “constructive” talks with White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan.

The weekend talks were the latest in a series of high-level meetings between U.S. and Chinese officials that could lay the foundation for a meeting this year between Xi and U.S. President Joe Biden.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan held talks with Wang Yi for hours this weekend, and confirmed Washington and Beijing on Sunday, as the two largest economies of the world aim to stabilize troubled relations. Both sides held “candid, substantive and constructive” talks during various meetings on September 16-17, as per separate statements issued by the Chinese foreign ministry and the White House on Sunday. There were also “limited” early signs that the military communication that was severed between the two nations would be restored, stated a senior Biden administration official.

(With inputs from agencies)

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