President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, have pledged greater “coordination” in international and regional affairs as the two nations deepen their ties amid growing tensions with the West.
During a meeting with Putin in Hangzhou on Sunday, Xi also said China and Russia would deepen their strategic cooperation and resolutely support one another’s national sovereignty and security, Xinhua reported.
Xi also called for greater coordination between the two nations over China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative to revive the land and maritime Silk Roads dating back to the days of Marco Polo and the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union.
Their meeting was the second time Putin has visited China this year after his June visit when more than 30 trade deals were signed.
The two countries have become closer through military and trade cooperation in recent years after Moscow turned to China in the face of sanctions imposed by the West over Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula.
China has also sought greater military cooperation with Russia, such a joint drill planned later this month in the South China Sea, against the backdrop of increasing tensions with the US.
Before the G20 summit a top Chinese official promised Putin would top China’s guest list.
In contrast with the treatment Putin received at last year’s summit in Turkey, where he was snubbed by Western leaders over the Ukraine crisis, this year he was greeted warmly by Xi and given a more prominent spot in the front row for the photo of world leaders.
While responding to China’s appeal for greater Sino-Russia cooperation, Putin was quoted as saying that Russia “will be glad to take part in this discussion”, Russia’s TASS news agency reported.
A Chinese observer said the two nations had used the G20 summit to present a united front against what they regarded as the Western-oriented world order.
“Russia is not happy about the current world order,” said Wang Xianju, a researcher at the Euro-Asian Social Development Research Institute of the State Council’s Development Research Centre. “China and Russia share more common interests or similar stances in a range of issues, such as in Syria, the South China Sea and THAAD [US missile defence system in South Korea].”
The two nations protested against the decision by the US and Seoul to deploy the missiles on South Korean soil, despite claims the system targeted only North Korea’s nuclear programme.
In recent years Beijing has also been more active in Syria, another hotspot for tensions between Russia and the US and its allies since the Ukraine crisis.
After deploying its first special envoy for the Syrian crisis, China’s military recently said it was giving “medical training” to Syrian forces.