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Russia’s Putin plans to meet Xi in China days after his new term begins

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Putin will arrive in China after Xi completes his first visit to the European Union in five years.


Bloomberg News




Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to visit China little more than a week after starting his new term in office, underscoring the growing importance of ties between the two countries.

 


The visit is scheduled for May 15-16, a person familiar with the Kremlin’s plans said. The dates may yet change slightly, but even if they do, the trip for talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping will be Putin’s first travel abroad after his inauguration at the Kremlin on May 7, the person said, declining to be identified as the information isn’t public.

 


Putin last month said he was planning to visit China in May, though he didn’t specify the exact dates.

 


The timing of the visit will be made public in due course, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in response to a question from Bloomberg News. The Foreign Ministry in Beijing didn’t immediately respond to a request to comment made during a holiday in China.

 


Putin will arrive in China after Xi completes his first visit to the European Union in five years. He’s due to travel to France, Serbia and Hungary in a tour starting May 5, with Russia’s war in Ukraine likely to be among the issues for discussion. 


While China hasn’t openly supported the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine, Moscow and Beijing have declared a “no limits” friendship that has so far helped Russia to weather unprecedented sanctions imposed by the US and its allies. Driven by Russian oil sales and purchases of electronics, industrial equipment and cars, Moscow’s trade with China hit a record $240 billion in 2023, more than double the $108 billion reached in 2020.

 


Despite the growing economic ties, China’s exports to Russia fell almost 16% in March from a year earlier, according to Chinese customs data. Putin may raise the need to bolster trade volumes between the two countries during his talks with Xi, a person with knowledge of the matter said in April. Meanwhile, China’s state-owned banks tightened curbs on funding to Russian clients after the US authorized secondary sanctions, people familiar said in January.




Putin last visited China in October to attend a forum on Xi’s signature Belt and Road initiative, a rare foreign trip for the Russian leader since a warrant for his arrest on alleged war crimes was issued by the International Criminal Court in March last year. 


Putin extended his almost quarter-century rule over Russia for a further six years in the presidential election in March, receiving a record 87% in a vote tightly controlled by the Kremlin and in which he faced no serious competition. 

 


©2024 Bloomberg L.P.

First Published: May 03 2024 | 10:48 PM IST

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