Russian foreign minister to visit China hard on heels of Alaska talks

Amber Wang
·3-min read

The United States is expected to be high on the agenda when top diplomats from China and Russia meet next week, just days after much-anticipated talks between Beijing and Washington.

The Chinese foreign ministry said on Thursday that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov would be in China on a two-day visit from Monday at the invitation of his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.

Wang and Communist Party Politburo member Yang Jiechi are in Alaska for talks on Thursday and Friday with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan.

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Diplomatic observers said China and Russia were expected to respond to changes in US policy towards the two counties.

“The international situation has undergone great changes,” said Yang Jin, an associate research fellow at the Institute of Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

“With shifts in the policies of US and Western countries towards China and Russia, the strategic partnership between China and Russia needs to be reflected and upgraded.”

Yang said the two countries would discuss how to strengthen coordination on regional and major international issues.

They would also look at unifying positions at the United Nations, where the two countries have long presented a united front on matters such as Iran, North Korea and Myanmar.

Yang said there was also expected to be common ground at the meeting next week on climate change, the coronavirus pandemic, economic ties and military cooperation.

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Russian news agency Interfax reported last week that Zhang Hanhui, Chinese ambassador to Moscow, said China was willing to maintain regular communication with Russia about its policies towards the United States.

Zhang also said military cooperation between the two countries was an “important pillar” of their relationship and an “important safeguard” in maintaining strategic balance of the world.

“As two major countries, China and Russia share broad common interests and shoulder special responsibilities in maintaining world peace and stability and promoting global development and prosperity,” he said.

Zhang said Moscow and Beijing had also made good progress on trade, vaccine development, space exploration, and military technology.

The administration of US President Joe Biden has singled out a “growing rivalry with China, Russia, and other authoritarian states” as a key challenge facing the United States, according to a White House document outlining Biden’s national security policies published earlier this month.

Biden has pledged to stand up to China and Russia, and has already announced fresh sanctions over the poisoning and later jailing of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

And on Tuesday during his first overseas trip, Blinken warned China against using “coercion and aggression”.

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Unlike the low expectations for the diplomatic sit-down in Anchorage, Yang said an agreement could come out of the meeting between Lavrov and Wang.

“Apart from cooperation on the economy and the fight against the pandemic, two countries will also discuss major project arrangements and international meetings this year, and new concrete results will come on frameworks including the Eurasian Economic Union and Belt and Road Initiative, and Shanghai Cooperation Organization,” Yang said.

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