Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping called for a shake-up of the world order as they met with Asian leaders Friday for a summit challenging Western influence.
The meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in ex-Soviet Uzbekistan brought Putin and Xi together with the leaders of SCO members India, Pakistan, and four Central Asian nations, as well as the presidents of Iran and Turkey.
Putin and Xi met on Thursday for their first face-to-face talks since the start of the conflict in Ukraine, and on the Chinese leader’s first trip abroad since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.
The summit has been put forward as an alternative to “Western-centric organisations”, at a time of increasing pressure on Moscow over Ukraine and growing anger in Beijing over US support for Taiwan.
Xi told leaders at the summit that it was time to reshape the international system and “abandon zero-sum games and bloc politics”.
Leaders should “work together to promote the development of the international order in a more just and rational direction,” Xi said.
Putin hailed the growing influence of countries outside the West, slamming what he called “instruments of protectionism, illegal sanctions and economic selfishness”.
“The growing role of new centres of power who cooperate with each other… is becoming more and more clear,” Putin said.
– Talks with Turkey –
The summit has been Putin’s first major international outing since Moscow sent troops into Ukraine in February, sparking a conflict that has left thousands dead and seen Russia hit with waves of economic sanctions.
Xi on Thursday said China was willing to work with Russia to support “each other’s core interests”, though Putin admitted that Beijing had “concerns” about the situation in Ukraine that he would address.
The SCO — which also includes Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan — was set up in 2001 as a political, economic and security organisation to rival Western institutions.
In a sign that the bloc is far from fully united, clashes escalated along the borders of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan on Friday, with both sides accusing the other of responsibility and of using heavy weapons.
Putin was due later Friday to meet with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been a key broker in deals between Russia and Ukraine on issues like grain shipments.
Erdogan told leaders at the summit that efforts were being made “to finalise the conflict in Ukraine through diplomacy as soon as possible”.
Xi met with Erdogan on Friday, calling for more “political mutual trust” between the two countries and pushing for more cooperation on his signature Belt and Road global trade initiative.
Xi was also set to have his first face-to-face discussion with Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi on Friday, after Raisi met Putin on Thursday.
– US, Taiwan raise concerns –
For Xi, the summit was an opportunity to shore up his credentials as a global statesman ahead of a pivotal congress of the ruling Communist Party in October, where he is widely expected to secure an unprecedented third term as president.
For Putin, it was a chance to show that he is not fully isolated on the global scene, at a time when his forces in Ukraine are facing major battlefield setbacks.
Other nations sounded alarm about deepening ties between Moscow and Beijing.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price said China and Russia “share a vision for the world that is starkly at odds with the vision that’s at the centre of the international system, the vision that has been at the centre of the international system for the past eight decades.”
He also took note of Putin’s mention of Chinese “concerns” about Ukraine in his talks with Xi, suggesting the “striking” admission showed Moscow did not have Beijing’s full support for its military campaign.
Taiwan’s foreign ministry meanwhile said the two countries were inflicting harm on “international peace, stability, democracy and freedom”.
Putin, Xi hail ‘great power’ ties at talks defying West
Samarkand, Uzbekistan (AFP) Sept 16, 2022 – Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping met for their first face-to-face talks since the start of the conflict in Ukraine on Thursday, hailing their strategic ties in defiance of the West.
Sitting across from each other at two long rounded tables and flanked by aides, the two leaders met on the sidelines of a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in ex-Soviet Uzbekistan.
The meeting was part of Xi’s first trip abroad since the early days of the pandemic. For Putin, it was a chance to show Russia has not been fully isolated despite Western efforts.
“China is willing to make efforts with Russia to assume the role of great powers, and play a guiding role to inject stability and positive energy into a world rocked by social turmoil,” Xi told Putin at the talks.
Chinese state broadcaster CCTV also quoted Xi as saying China was willing to work with Russia to support “each other’s core interests”.
Putin took a clear broadside at the United States, which has been leading efforts to support Ukraine and impose sanctions on Russia.
“Attempts to create a unipolar world have recently acquired an absolutely ugly form and are completely unacceptable,” Putin said.
“We highly appreciate the balanced position of our Chinese friends in connection with the Ukrainian crisis,” Putin told Xi, while reiterating Moscow’s backing for China on Taiwan.
“We adhere to the principle of one China. We condemn the provocation of the US and their satellites in the Taiwan Strait,” Putin said, after a US Senate committee on Wednesday took the first step towards Washington directly providing billions of dollars in military aid to Taiwan.
– ‘Alternative’ to West –
It was the first in-person meeting between the two leaders since Putin saw Xi in early February for the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, days before the Russian leader launched the military offensive in Ukraine.
The Kremlin has touted the SCO summit in the ancient Silk Road city of Samarkand as showing there is an “alternative” to Western-dominated international institutions.
The SCO — made up of China, India, Pakistan, Russia and the ex-Soviet Central Asian nations of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan — was set up in 2001 as a political, economic and security organisation to rival Western institutions.
The leaders of those countries were to attend, as well as Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus.
Putin met the leaders of Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan earlier Thursday, as well as with Raisi and Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
With both Raisi and Sharif he said ties were “developing positively”, while the Iranian leader told Putin that US-backed sanctions on both countries would only make their relationship “stronger”.
“The Americans think whichever country they impose sanctions on, it will be stopped. Their perception is a wrong one,” Raisi said.
For Putin, the summit comes at an important time, as his forces face major battlefield setbacks in Ukraine and amid a continued Western push to make Russia an international pariah.
For Xi, it is an opportunity to shore up his credentials as a global statesman ahead of a pivotal congress of the ruling Communist Party in October.
The Chinese leader also met Thursday with Belarus’s strongman leader Lukashenko, who was quoted by state news agency Belta as thanking Xi for China’s “serious support in these difficult times”.
Lukashenko has been shunned by Western leaders after a fierce crackdown on the opposition two years ago and for backing Russia on Ukraine.
Chinese state media said Xi would also meet Erdogan on Friday.
– ‘No-limits’ relationship –
Formerly Cold War allies with a tempestuous relationship, China and Russia have drawn closer in recent years as part of what they call a “no-limits” relationship acting as a counterweight to the global dominance of the United States.
The two countries have also stepped up military cooperation, with China sending hundreds of troops to take part in military exercises last month in Russia’s far east.
The defence ministry in Moscow said Thursday that Russian and Chinese warships were on a joint patrol in the Pacific and planning a live-fire artillery exercise at sea.
Other global leaders sounded alarm about deepening ties between Moscow and Beijing.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price said China and Russia “share a vision for the world that is starkly at odds with the vision that’s at the center of the international system, the vision that has been at the center of the international system for the past eight decades.”
Taiwan’s foreign ministry said the two countries were inflicting harm on “international peace, stability, democracy and freedom”.
Putin was also set to hold talks Friday with Erdogan and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Security was tight in Samarkand — a city of grand tiled mosques that was one of the hubs of Silk Road trade routes between China and Europe — with a huge police presence on the streets and armoured vehicles parked downtown.
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Putin, Xi meet for high-stakes talks in challenge to West
Samarkand, Uzbekistan (AFP) Sept 15, 2022
Russia’s Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping gather with other Asian leaders in the ancient Silk Road city of Samarkand from Thursday for a regional summit touted as a challenge to Western global influence.
Xi and Putin will be joined by the leaders of India, Pakistan, Turkey, Iran and several other countries for the meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in the Uzbek city on Thursday and Friday.
The main summit day will be Friday, but it is a meeting of the Russian and Chinese … read more