Putin and Xi pose as a counterweight to the Western order

Putin and Xi pose as a counterweight to the Western order

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin posed as a counterweight to Western influence at a regional summit on Friday that brought together several countries with strained ties with the United States.

The two leaders are chairing a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a group that wants to compete with Western institutions, in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

This summit comes at a time when Moscow and Beijing have extremely strained relations with the United States due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and American support for Taiwan.

At the main session of the SCO summit, Xi called on the assembled leaders to “work together to promote an international order moving in a more just and rational direction.”

“It is necessary to promote the common values ​​of humanity, abandon zero-sum games and bloc politics,” he continued. He didn’t name a country, but Beijing commonly uses this vocabulary to denounce the United States and its close allies.

For his part, the Russian president welcomed the “increasing role of the new centers of power,” which he says is “becoming more and more evident.”

Putin said that unlike in the West, cooperation between SCO member countries is based on “disinterested” principles.

The SCO, whose members are China, Russia, India, Pakistan and four former Soviet republics in Central Asia, was founded in 2001 as a cooperation platform in competition with Western organizations.

– Putin is looking for allies –

The statements by Mr. Xi and Mr. Putin illustrate the turmoil that has rocked international relations for several months, particularly since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began in late February.

Russia has since been the target of heavy Western economic sanctions and is increasingly turning to Asia for economic and diplomatic support.

Mr Putin has thus multiplied the number of bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the summit since Thursday.

During a meeting with Mr Xi on Thursday, Mr Putin thanked his Chinese counterpart for his “balanced position” on Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, while promising him “explanations” in light of his “concerns”.

On Friday, the Russian President will meet with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose country is getting more and more hydrocarbons from Moscow despite Western sanctions.

He then meets with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with whom he wants to discuss an agreement unblocking war-hit Ukrainian grain exports.

This is followed by an interview with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev following clashes between Azerbaijan and Armenia that have left more than 200 dead and raised fears of a new war in the Caucasus, Moscow’s traditional zone of influence.

– Silk Roads –

Mr Xi, who is making his first overseas trip to Central Asia since the coronavirus pandemic began, is hoping to further strengthen his position as top leader ahead of an October Chinese Communist Party congress where he will seek a new mandate.

The choice of Central Asia as its first overseas destination in more than two years highlights the importance Beijing attaches to this region, criss-crossed by the “New Silk Roads,” a gigantic project led by Mr. Xi to strengthen trade links with the world.

Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Samarkand, Uzbekistan on September 16, 2022 (SPUTNIK/AFP – Sergei BOBYLYOV)

However, several Central Asian countries have experienced troubles this year, such as deadly unrest in Kazakhstan or Friday’s clashes between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, whose leaders are present in Samarkand.

Ahead of the summit, Xi traveled to Kazakhstan on Wednesday and vowed to help it “maintain its sovereignty” as the traditionally Moscow-allied country worries about Russian ambitions after invading Ukraine.

Mr Xi also met with Mr Erdogan and Iranian leader Ebrahim Raisi on Friday as Iran’s nuclear talks slide.

However, no meeting between MM was announced. Xi and Modi, both nuclear powers, have endured a period of tension since deadly border fighting in 2020.

Reference: www.challenges.fr

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