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Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit China this week

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Russian President Vladimir Putin will embark on a two-day visit to China this week on the invitation of Chinese president Xi Jinping, Beijing’s foreign ministry said Tuesday (May 14).

The Russian president will be in Beijing from Thursday to Friday (May 16-17), foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.

This is Russian leader’s second visit to China in just over six months.

According to analysts, Russia is dependent on China as a crucial economic lifeline since the West hit it with unprecedented sanctions.

Despite Western criticism of its close ties with Moscow, China continues to champion its no limits partnership. 

This alliance benefits China with discounted Russian energy imports and access to abundant natural resources, including a steady flow of gas through the Power of Siberia pipeline.

However, this economic cooperation is facing challenges. Under Western scrutiny, Chinese banks are growing wary of potential US sanctions that could restrict their access to the global financial system. 

As a result, they have begun to tighten restrictions on doing business with Russian companies.

The trade between China and Russia has boomed since the Ukraine invasion, which Beijing has never condemned and hit $240 billion in 2023, according to Chinese customs figures.

Following US threats of sanctions against institutions aiding Moscow, Chinese exports to Russia dipped in March and April, reversing the earlier surge witnessed at the beginning of the year.

This decline coincides with mounting pressure on Beijing to sever economic ties with Russia. The potential consequences of failing to do so could be particularly damaging for China’s already strained economy.

“Chinese banks are worried about reputational costs as they seek to avert major sanctions,” Elizabeth Wishnick, a Senior Research Scientist at CNA, told AFP.

Watch: Russian forces attack border of Ukraine’s Northern Kharkiv region

Putin’s trip to Beijing echoes Xi’s own to Russia after his anointing as leader last year. 

The experts believe this week’s highly symbolic meeting to result in toasts to the no limits partnership.

(With inputs from agencies)

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