Russia, China push back against US in pre-Olympics summit

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Russia, China push back against US in pre-Olympics summit
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BEIJING — The leaders of Russia and China pushed back against U.S. pressure on Friday, declaring their opposition to any expansion of NATO and affirming that the island of Taiwan is a part of China, as they met hours before the Winter Olympics kicked off in Beijing.

Russia’s Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping issued a joint statement highlighting what they called “interference in the internal affairs” of other states, as both leaders face criticism from Washington over their foreign and domestic policies.

“Some forces representing a minority on the world stage continue to advocate unilateral approaches to resolving international problems and resort to military policy,” it read, in a thinly veiled reference to the U.S. and its allies.

The two leaders are looking to project themselves as a counterweight to the U.S.-led bloc, as China shows growing support for Moscow in its dispute with Ukraine that threatens to break out into armed conflict.

China and Russia are committed to “deepening back-to-back strategic cooperation,” Xi was quoted as telling Putin.

“This is a strategic decision that has far-reaching influence on China, Russia and the world,” Xi said, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

Faced with a “complex and evolving international situation,” the two sides “strongly support each other” in confronting what Xi called “regional security threats” and “international strategic stability,” without directly naming the U.S.

Putin is the highest-profile guest at the Beijing Games following the decision by the U.S., Britain and others not to send officials in protest of China’s human rights abuses and its treatment of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities.

Putin praised “unprecedented” close relations with China, in his opening remarks to Xi carried by Russian television.

Relations “are developing in a progressive way with a spirit of friendship and strategic partnership,” Putin said. “They have indeed become unprecedented.”

Putin highlighted close economic ties, including a new contract to supply China with 10 billion cubic meters of gas per year from eastern Russian.

“For our meeting today, our oilmen have prepared very good new solutions for the supply of hydrocarbons to the People’s Republic of China, and another step forward has been taken in the gas industry,” Putin said.

Russia has long been a key supplier of oil, gas and coal for China’s massive economy, now the world’s second largest, along with food and other raw materials.

China’s state-run news agency reported the two leaders met at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse Friday afternoon, but gave no details. They did not appear to shake hands when greeting each other due to COVID-19 precautions.

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