Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin criticized Western actions that weaken global “strategic stability” and infringe on Beijing’s and Moscow’s interests in joint statements that followed a one-day bilateral meeting in Beijing on Saturday.
The statements outlined Chinese and Russian consensus on a range of global military, economic and diplomatic issues, and underscored a deepening partnership between Beijing and Moscow against their geopolitical rivals in the West.
Russia has drawn closer to China following Western sanctions imposed in 2014 over Moscow’s actions against Ukraine, and Beijing abstained from a U.N. General Assembly vote that called on nations not to recognize the annexation of Crimea. Analysts say China may seek some Russian reciprocation given Beijing’s own diplomatic difficulties in recent weeks.
In the Saturday statements, China and Russia appeared to offered each other diplomatic backing over issues where they have faced major strategic differences with the U.S. and other Western governments. Messrs. Xi and Putin expressed concern over growing “negative factors” affecting “global strategic stability,” and urged respect for international law as well as “the legitimate rights and interests” of all countries in the handling of global and regional tensions.
Both leaders criticized Western efforts enhancing ballistic-missile defense in Europe and northeast Asia, saying they “severely infringe upon the strategic security interests” of other countries in the region. They expressed joint opposition to the deployment of the Aegis Ashore system in Europe — a concern to Moscow—and the proposed placement of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system in South Korea, which Beijing has condemned.
Mr. Putin’s visit to Beijing comes as Russia courts Chinese investment amid Western sanctions over the annexation of Crimea. The Kremlin released a statement saying a joint commission on investment cooperation had selected 58 different commercial initiatives with a total volume of investments at $50 billion, with a dozen projects at the implementation stage.
The two leaders also touched upon a joint project to build a high-speed railway to the Russian city of Kazan, the Kremlin statement said.
“We’ll coordinate the construction of a Moscow-Kazan high-speed railway by the end of the year,” Putin told journalists following negotiations, according to the Kremlin statement.
Both governments also signed an agreement on setting up a Chinese yuan clearing mechanism in Russia, a move that would benefit bilateral trade, China’s central bank said in a statement.
Mr. Putin, for his part, also appeared to lend some support for Mr. Xi’s position on maritime disputes in South China Sea—an issue of concern for Beijing as it braces for an international arbitration ruling that could contradict its sweeping claims over the disputed waters.
An arbitration tribunal in The Hague is expected to issue a ruling soon on a case filed by the Philippines in 2013 to challenge Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea, where Chinese assertions of territorial sovereignty overlap with claims from five other governments. Chinese officials have boycotted the proceedings and called it illegitimate. In recent months, they reiterated their refusal to recognize the tribunal’s authority, while trying to rally public and diplomatic support for their position.
In Saturday’s statement, Russia backed China’s stance on maritime disputes in jointly urging compliance with the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, or Unclos, and expressing opposition to “internationalization” of and external interference in these disputes.
Both countries also urged the implement of the Declaration on Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, a 2002 instrument signed by China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The declaration calls for a code of conduct that lays down ground rules for the management of maritime disputes, but years of negotiations have yielded little progress. Southeast Asian diplomats have pinned blame on China for their perceived insincerity in the talks, an allegation that Beijing denies.
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