What’s in store for President Xi’s planned meeting with Putin?

What’s in store for President Xi’s planned meeting with Putin?
FILE PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin takes part in a video conference call with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia June 28, 2021. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS

China is gearing up for its next party congress, which will take place in about a month. President Xi is expected to get a historic third leadership term during the congress, making him the country’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong. As China prepares for this event, China-Russia relations are at the forefront of many minds. With shared tense relations with the West and Russian oil ties, the two get along pretty well. Still, China has refused to supply Russia with weapons in the Ukraine conflict.

Today, President Xi is expected to make a one-day stop in Kazakhstan before heading over to Uzbekistan, where he’ll meet with Russian President Putin to discuss, among other things, the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. President Xi is using the trip to promote his recently-announced “Global Security Initiative." This is Xi’s first overseas trip since the onset of the COVID pandemic back at the beginning of 2020 and the first time the two leaders will be together since before Russia invaded Ukraine. On Friday, Xi will attend a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which includes Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan, among other former Soviet states.

Key comments:

“China and Russia share the same stance in opposing the Western practice of imposing sanctions and overthrowing regimes of other countries," said Li Xin, director of Shanghai University of Political Science and Law’s Institute of European and Asian Studies.

“The presidents will discuss both the bilateral agenda and the main regional and international topics. Naturally, they will give a positive assessment of the unprecedentedly high level of trust within the bilateral strategic partnership," Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov said at a press briefing.

“As the [world] situation has been going through some relatively large changes, it’s normal for [Russia and China] to hold talks on international and regional affairs and bilateral cooperation," said Yang Cheng, executive president of the Shanghai Academy of Global Governance and Area Studies. “But in regard to the Ukraine tensions, China will be careful in expressing its stance, most likely [it] will continue to stick with its neutral position."