MOSCOW (AP) — A senior Kremlin official on Tuesday called for closer policy coordination between Moscow and Beijing to counter what he described as Western efforts to contain them as he hosted China’s top diplomat for security talks.
Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of Russia’s Security Council chaired by President Vladimir Putin, told Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi that Moscow “seeks progressive development and strengthening of the Russian-Chinese relations of comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation.”
“Amid the campaign unleashed by the collective West that is aimed at the double containment of Russia and China, it’s particularly important to further deepen Russian-Chinese coordination and interaction on the inetrnational arena,” Patrushev said.
He noted that Putin is set to hold “substantive” talks with Chinese leader Xi Jinping during next month’s trip to Beijing to attend a summit of the Chinese Belt and Road infrastructure initiative.
Patrushev, a longtime Putin associate, reaffirmed Russia’s “invariable” support for Beijing’s policy on issues related to Taiwan, the western Xinjiang region and Hong Kong, which he said “are being used by the West to discredit China.”
China claims Taiwan as part of its territory and has conducted increasingly large military drills in the air and waters around the island. Chinese authorities also have sought to eradicate any possibility of unrest in regions that are home to sizeable ethnic and religious groups, including Tibetans and the Uyghur community in Xinjiang, north of Tibet, the harsh policies that have drawn strong criticism from the West.
The Kremlin has continuously expressed support for Beijing as Russia and China have grown increasingly close while their relations with the West deteriorate.
Last month, China helped engineer an expansion of the BRICS partnership, which invited six more countries to join what has been a five-nation bloc that includes China, Russia, Brazil, India and South Africa.
Beijing has sought to project itself as neutral in the Ukraine conflict, even while it has refused to condemn Moscow’s actions and declared last year that it had a “no-limits” friendship with Russia. China has denounced Western sanctions against Moscow, and accused NATO and the United States of provoking Putin’s military action.
Beijing has also proposed a peace plan that was largely dismissed by Ukraine’s allies that insist that Moscow must withdraw its forces from the neighboring country.
“The more violent the unilateral actions of hegemony and bloc confrontation become, the more important for us to keep up with the times, show a sense of duty as great powers, and further fulfill our international obligations,” Wang said at the start of Monday’s talks with Lavrov.