Putin, Xi to meet in Beijing amid Israel-Palestine conflict

October 18, 2023, 3:09 pm

<p>Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin<em> (Anadolu)</em></p>

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin (Anadolu)

ISTANBUL / MOSCOW – Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to hold a meeting on Wednesday with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Beijing, where the former arrived a day earlier to attend the 3rd Belt and Road Forum.

World leaders have flown to Beijing to attend the two-day international forum, which sees the participation of presidents, vice presidents, prime ministers, and other representatives from about 140 countries and 30 international organizations.

Putin’s visit to China marks the second foreign visit conducted by the Russian president since the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a warrant for his arrest in March 2023.

The meeting between the two presidents also comes two days after their foreign ministers met in Beijing and discussed relations between their countries and the ongoing clashes between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas.

Deepening ties between Moscow-Beijing

The development of Moscow-Beijing ties has been a prevalent topic in the agenda of all recent talks involving the two neighboring countries.

Before departing for the 3rd Belt and Road Forum, Putin underlined the growth in bilateral trade between the two countries in an interview with the China Media Group, in addition to praising the relations between Russia and China, which he said "have been shaped for 20 years in a careful, phased-out manner."

The Russian president further said that both countries have taken into account each other’s opinions and interests while doing so, also defining Russian-Chinese relations as “a fundamental factor" in maintaining global stability and calling China's flagship Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) project a "success."

However, at a plenary session of the Russian Economic Forum in Vladivostok on Sept. 12, Ilya Doronin, a presenter at the forum, voiced concerns over a disbalance in the Russian-Chinese economic cooperation, specifically mentioning China's cautiousness about relocating its manufacturing facilities to Russia.

During a meeting with Russian Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matvienko in July, Xi said that the decision taken by both countries to develop relations is "a strategic choice" made by both countries based on their national and fundamental interests.

“China is ready to continue to work with Russia to develop a new era of comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership that is mutually supportive, deeply integrated, pioneering and innovative, and mutually beneficial to help rejuvenate the two countries and promote a prosperous, stable, fair and just world,” Xi said, according to Beijing-based Global Times.

Israel-Palestine conflict

The recent clashes in the Middle East, for which both Russia and China have called for de-escalation, are a subject expected to be touched during the upcoming meeting.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday that Putin, who defined the escalations as a clear example of "the failure of US policy in the region," intends to discuss the situation in Gaza with his Chinese counterpart, given its significance and the rapidly evolving situation in the Middle East, adding that this is a “topic on the agenda of all world leaders.”

Peskov also said that Putin does not plan to introduce any peace initiatives regarding the situation in the Gaza Strip, despite having insights from recent phone conversations with leaders from Egypt, Iran, Israel, Palestine, and Syria, urging to focus on de-escalation before seeking a settlement.

Elsewhere, in several statements, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi has called on Israel to heed international law and stop “collective punishment” of the oppressed people.

Speaking to his US counterpart Antony Blinken over the weekend, Wang said: “There is no way out through military means, and using violence for violence will only create a vicious cycle.”

“The Israeli people have received assurances of their survival, but who is ensuring the survival of the Palestinian people," Wang asked during a news conference, alongside EU foreign affairs chief Joseph Borrell, in Beijing.

"The Israeli nation is no longer in a state of diaspora, but when will the Palestinian nation be able to return to their homeland," he further questioned, urging all sides to refrain from escalating the situation and return to negotiations as soon as possible.

China is also dispatching its special envoy for Middle East affairs Zhai Jun to visit the regional nations this week while Beijing has insisted that the “two-state solution” was a “fundamental way out” of the conflict.

Russia-Ukraine war

Putin and Xi held talks earlier in March after the Chinese president’s re-election for a third term in office and Beijing’s announcement of 12 points on a political settlement to the war in Ukraine.

In this context, Putin said his country viewed China's peace initiative on the Russia-Ukraine war in high regard and considered it "realistic," seeing it as a good foundation for future peace agreements.

Earlier this year, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also said that China starting to talk about Ukraine was “very good." In further comments, Zelenskyy also expressed hope for Beijing’s participation in efforts to restore peace in the region. (Anadolu)