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Putin tells Xi that Russia-China relations are a ‘stabilizing’ force for the world

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BEIJING, CHINA – MAY 16: (RUSSIA OUT) Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) talk during a bilateral meeting on May 16, 2024, in Beijing, China. Russian President Vladimir Putin is in China for a two-day state visit. (Photo by Contributor/Getty Images)

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Russia-China ties are a “stabilizing” force for the world, Russian President Vladimir Putin told his counterpart Xi Jinping during his state visit on Thursday.

Putin’s two-day visit to China comes at the invitation of Xi and will be the Russian leader’s first foreign trip since he began his fifth term in office last week.

“Relations between Russia and China are not opportunistic and not directed against anyone,” Putin said, according to Russian state media. “Our cooperation in international matters is one of the stabilizing factors in the international arena.”

Both countries have touted their “no-limits” friendship since February 2022, to act as a counterweight to the U.S. global influence.

In his remarks, Xi said Beijing “will always work with Russia as a good neighbor, friend and partner” to safeguard “fairness and justice,” according to Chinese state media, as both leaders signed a joint statement to deepen strategic cooperation.

China has increasingly become Russia’s lifeline to support its war chest since the invasion of Ukraine as Washington continues to tighten the screws on Moscow with more sanctions.

In an interview with state-media Xinhua published ahead of the visit, Putin said trade volume between the two countries reached $227.8 billion last year from $111 billion in 2019.

“The current bilateral trade volume is about 20 trillion rubles, or nearly 1.6 trillion yuan,” he noted. That’s about $219.6 billion.

Both sides seek collaboration in “high-technology, outer space and peaceful uses of nuclear energy, artificial intelligence, renewable energy,” among other sectors, Putin added.

China’s tight embrace of Russia has been a thorny issue for the U.S. with Washington warning Beijing to curtail its military aid for Moscow’s war against Ukraine.

On the trade front, U.S. President Joe Biden this week announced stiff new tariff rates on $18 billion worth of Chinese imports to protect American industries from what Washington has called “unfair trade practices” by China.

Beijing has slammed the U.S., saying it’s making “groundless accusations” over “normal trade and economic exchanges” between China and Russia.

Still, the mounting economic and diplomatic pressure from the U.S. and its allies could force China closer to Russia, observers have said.

Putin is expected to meet with Chinese Premier Li Qiang and also travel to the north-eastern city of Harbin for a trade and investment expo, according to Russian state media.

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