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Russia’s Putin to visit China in first foreign trip since re-election

Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit China this week, both countries announced, using the first foreign trip of his new six-year term to underscore the deepening partnership with China’s Xi Jinping.

China and Russia declared a “no limits” partnership in February 2022 when Putin visited Beijing just days before he sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine.

“At the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin will pay a state visit to China on May 16-17 as his first foreign trip after taking office,” the Kremlin said on Tuesday.

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Hua Chunying said in a statement that the two will discuss “bilateral ties, cooperation in various fields, and international and regional issues of common interest”.

It will be Putin’s second visit in just over six months to China, an economic lifeline for Russia after Western nations imposed sanctions over its military offensive in Ukraine.

China has rebuffed Western criticism of its ties with Russia, but their economic partnership and military cooperation have come under increasing scrutiny in the West.

The United States’s latest punitive measures, announced this month, targeted more than 280 entities in their latest effort to paralyze Russia’s military and industrial capabilities, including 20 firms based in China and Hong Kong.

US-China rivalry

The US casts China as its biggest competitor and Russia as its largest nation-state threat while US President Joe Biden argues that this century will be defined by an existential contest between democracies and autocracies.

Putin and Xi share a broad worldview, which sees the West as decadent and in decline just as China challenges US supremacy in everything from quantum computing and synthetic biology to espionage and hard military power.

During the visit, Putin will meet Chinese Premier Li Qiang to discuss economic cooperation. Putin will also visit the northeastern city of Harbin, which has strong ties to Russia, for a trade and investment exposition.

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