Xi, Putin Agree 'Deepening' Relations Between Beijing And Moscow

Xi, Putin Agree 'Deepening' Relations Between Beijing And Moscow

Oct. 20, 2023, 8:16 a.m.

While one war continues to rage in Ukraine and another is threatening to boil over in the Middle East, Chinese President Xi Jinping held court in Beijing for visiting dignitaries, presenting his vision of "an open, inclusive and interconnected world" through his signature global infrastructure project, the Belt and Road Initiative, while taking veiled swipes at the United States and its Western allies.

In Xi's keynote speech marking the 10th anniversary of his pet foreign policy project, he criticized those who view "others' development as a threat" and "economic interdependence as a risk," saying protectionist actions like those the U.S. has taken against China "will not make one's own life better or speed up one's development."

"We stand against are unilateral sanctions, economic coercion and decoupling," Xi told the cavernous meeting hall filled with representatives from more than 130 countries this week for the Belt and Road Forum.

Clapping amongst the guests was Russian leader Vladimir Putin, who was personally invited by Xi to attend when the Chinese leader visited Moscow earlier this year.

In Beijing, Xi gave Putin the warm reception he's been denied on the international stage since the war in Ukraine rendered him a pariah with Western countries. At the opening banquet Tuesday night, Putin strode into the reception hall walking side-by-side with Xi, ahead of the other invited leaders.

The Belt and Road Initiative was initially proposed to increase the connectivity between China and the European markets, building linkages through countries across the Eurasian continents, recreating a modern silk road. A decade on, however, Western countries, including the United States, largely shunned the project, criticizing it as debt-trap diplomacy. In their place, the developing nations of the Global South have taken up China's offer to aid their infrastructure development expanding Beijing's influence in worldwide. This was reflected in the make up of the forum's attendees, further highlighting the widening geopolitical divide.

Speaking at the forum immediately after Xi, Putin addressed an audience that included over 20 heads of state including the leaders of Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Kenya, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Argentina and Chile. U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres was also in attendance.

"Russia and China, like most countries of the world, share the aspiration for equal and mutually beneficial cooperation in order to achieve universal sustainable and long-term economic progress and social well-being while respecting the diversity of civilization and the right of each state to its own development model," the Russian president said.

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