‘Most important strategic partner’: China reinforces Russia ties

“The friendship between the two peoples is iron clad,” China’s top diplomat said.

By Associated Press

China’s Foreign Minister on Monday called Russia Beijing’s “most important strategic partner,” amid its continued refusal to condemn the invasion of Ukraine.

At a news conference on the sidelines of the annual meeting of China’s ceremonial parliament, Wang Yi told reporters that ties with Moscow constituted “one of the most crucial bilateral relationships in the world.”

China has broken with the U.S., Europe and others that have imposed sanctions on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine. It says Washington is to blame for the conflict in Ukraine.

“No matter how perilous the international landscape, we will maintain our strategic focus and promote the development of a comprehensive China-Russia partnership in the new era,” Wang said.

“The friendship between the two peoples is iron clad.”

Much attention has been paid to a meeting between Chinese leader Xi Jinping and President Vladimir Putin in Beijing on Feb. 4, after which a joint statement was issued affirming “strong mutual support for the protection of their core interests.”

Russia endorsed China’s view of self-governing Taiwan as an “inalienable part of China, and opposes any forms of independence of Taiwan,” while China backed Russia in opposing the further enlargement of NATO.

Since then, Xi’s government has refused to criticize the Russian invasion but tried to distance itself from Putin’s war by calling for dialogue and the respect of national sovereignty. That prompted suggestions Putin failed to tell the Chinese leader his plans before their February statement.

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Along with denouncing trade and financial sanctions on Moscow, Beijing says Washington is to blame for the conflict for failing to take Russia’s security concerns into consideration.

During an hour-long phone conversation with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday, Wang said China opposes any moves that “add fuel to the flames” in Ukraine.

Chinese state-controlled media outlets were told to post only pro-Russian content and to censor anti-Russian or pro-Western views, according to a copy of instructions that appeared on the social media account of the newspaper Beijing News. The post was later deleted.