Russia's sanctions-hit economy is praised for its "resilience" by China's top state senator

BEIJING: China's top lawmaker Li Zhanshu arrived in Vladivostok on Wednesday, becoming the highest-ranking Chinese official to leave the country since the pandemic began.

Beijing's No. 3 official met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the annual Eastern Economic Forum in Russia's Far East city to boost foreign investment in the region.

During this time only top diplomat Yang Jiechi has left China, and the Chinese leadership has been on high alert due to the coronavirus pandemic for nearly three years.

 Li's visit also comes at a time when Western countries are concerned about China and Russia's cooperation and forming anti-Western coalitions on issues such as Ukraine, Taiwan, Moscow's conflict in Xinjiang and Western sanctions.

According to the official video stream, Putin thanked China for Russia's support and told Li that he values ​​the contribution made by the leaders of the two countries in furthering bilateral ties.

Li thanked Putin for his condolence message about the 6.8 earthquake that hit Sichuan province on Monday and killed at least 74 people. Li said cooperation between China and Russia has improved thanks to the "strategic wisdom" of Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Before the live stream ended, Lee said that "political trust, strategic coordination and practical cooperation between the two countries has reached new heights."

Li previously expressed Beijing's opposition to supply chain disruption and unilateral sanctions in a speech at the plenary session of the forum and announced that China and Russia would not form an alliance.

China is pleased to learn that President Putin's administration prevented the Russian economy from collapsing due to severe sanctions from the West and the United States. Instead, it has stabilized quickly and exhibits flexibility, according to them.

He said Russia is rich in energy and resources and that energy cooperation between the two countries would be "enduring and full of potential".

Due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February and interference in foreign elections, some Russian politicians and oligarchs have been elected to sanctions. As a result of human rights restrictions, Chinese businesses now have less access to and do business with Western businesses, banks and other financial institutions.

On the 11-day visit, Li will visit Mongolia, Nepal and South Korea as well as Russia, all of whom have friendly relations with China.

According to Alfred Wu, an associate professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, the visit would be a successful way to end Lee's political career.

For example, a visit to a European nation would have prompted criticism, given that China's relations with the continent are strained due to the treatment of its citizens in Taiwan and Xinjiang, he said.

Following the October Communist Party Congress, Lee is projected to step down as party leader. In March, he is expected to step down as legislative speaker.

While Moscow's war in Ukraine continued, China's military took part in the week-long Vostok 2022 war games that were directed by Russia and ended on Wednesday.

In addition to criticizing Western sanctions against Russia, China has not condemned the invasion, and its state media have largely repeated Russian accounts of the conflict. However, there is no evidence that China provided military aid to Russia.

State-owned China National Petroleum Corporation and Russian natural gas giant Gazprom on Tuesday signed a contract to pay for gas supplies to China in rubles and yuan at the forum in Vladivostok, according to Gazprom. Putin later told the forum that the currencies would be used equitably.

Most of the trade between the two countries is done in Euros and US Dollars.

As a result of the oil spill in the turbines, Gazprom postponed the reopening of the Nord Stream 1 natural gas pipeline in Europe. It was not told when the service would resume.

The Group of Finance Ministers of seven countries, including Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, last Friday decided to set price limits on Russian oil.

Wu claimed that China's relations with Russia were difficult, despite appearing united.

"The talks with Russia have been incredibly disappointing. They have a very transactional relationship in my opinion," Wu said. "The United States is their common enemy."

Andrey Denisov, Russia's departing ambassador to China, told Russian media on Wednesday that pressuring Beijing to unambiguously support Moscow would cause "certain discomfort among Chinese partners."

Additionally, according to Denisov, on September 15 and 16, Xi and Putin will meet in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, as part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit. Eight members from across Asia, four observers, and five "dialogue partners" make up the China-led regional security group.

According to Wan Qingsong, an associate research professor at the Centre for Russian Studies at East China Normal University in Shanghai, "this is one of a number of activities that China has organised to strengthen ties with Russia." It's a crucial diplomatic stance.

A meeting between Xi and Putin the following week could be an opportunity to discuss strategies to end the war, according to him. Li, he claimed, was using the Vladivostok forum to show support for Russia after Western sanctions were put in place over Ukraine.

After US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan in August and the unprecedented military exercises Beijing conducted in retaliation, Wan added that China needed Russia.

He claimed that China's public position of active neutrality on the Russia-Ukraine conflict had been significantly harmed by the Taiwan Strait crisis. This demonstrates the connection between Taiwan's and Ukraine's security concerns.

Li is scheduled to visit Moscow to meet with the two chambers' chairs of the Russian parliament, Valentina Matviyenko and Vyacheslav Volodin  the State Duma chairman.

UN experts argue that China's behaviour in Xinjiang justifies a special human rights session

Foreign businesses in China fighting for survival prepare for whatever comes next

Putin claims that the conflict in Ukraine will help Russia

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