Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet on the sidelines of a summit in Uzbekistan next week, Russian envoy to Beijing Andrey Denisov told reporters on Wednesday, according to the Russian state news agency. Cup.
The scheduled meeting at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit would be the first face-to-face between the two leaders, who have established a close relationship, since the Russian invasion of Ukraine earlier this year.
It would also be Xi’s first overseas trip since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, as China’s uncompromising stance on zero Covid has severely limited diplomatic travel by its top officials.
On Wednesday, China’s number three Li Zhanshu, a member of the Chinese Communist Party’s Politburo Standing Committee, became the most senior official to leave China when he arrived in Vladivostok to attend the Eastern Economic Forum. Li was due to meet Putin on Wednesday, according to Tass.
Next week’s planned meeting between Xi and Putin – and the choice of where to take Xi’s first trip abroad – signals the importance of Russian relations for China, even in the face of the international backlash against Moscow after its invasion. unprovoked Ukraine earlier this year. .
Moscow and Beijing have become closer partners in recent years as both face tensions with the West, with Xi and Putin saying the two countries had a ‘limitless’ partnership weeks before the invasion. Ukraine by Russia. Beijing has since refused to condemn the aggression, repeatedly blaming NATO and the United States for the conflict.
The potential visit to Central Asia as Xi’s first official visit outside China since the start of 2020 would also be a nod to his own legacy of boosting China’s international profile during his decade in power. Xi announced his flagship Belt and Road Initiative during a visit to Kazakhstan in 2013.
The international trip would come just weeks before a major political meeting in Beijing, where Xi is expected to break with tradition and assume a third term in power, cementing his role as China’s most powerful leader in decades.
The SCO summit will be held from September 15 in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. The organization is made up of China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.