Russia’s President Vladimir Putin told Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Thursday that Moscow backs Beijing’s “One China” policy, opposes “provocations” by the United States in the Taiwan Strait, and values China’s “balanced position” on Ukraine.
The two leaders were meeting on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Uzbekistan. It was their first face-to-face meeting since Russia launched its “special military operation” in Ukraine in February.
In televised opening remarks at the bilateral meeting, Putin told Xi: “We highly value the balanced position of our Chinese friends when it comes to the Ukraine crisis. We understand your questions and concern about this. During today’s meeting, we will of course explain our position.”
Russia has moved closer to China since sending its armed forces into Ukraine in February, a decision that triggered an unprecedented barrage of Western sanctions against Moscow.
Putin also threw his weight behind Beijing’s key positions in the brief public statement, aligning the two countries in what analysts see as a fledgling anti-U.S., anti-Western alliance.
Putin referred to Beijing’s insistence that other countries do not recognise Taiwan, a self-ruled island that Bejing claims as part of China, as an independent country.
“We intend to firmly adhere to the principle of ‘One China’,” Putin said.
He added that Russian “condemns provocations by the United States and their satellites in the Taiwan Strait”, a possible reference to U.S. Navy warships sailing through international waters in the Taiwan Strait on Aug. 27.
The United States has no formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan but is bound by law to provide the island with the means to defend itself.
China has never ruled out using force to bring Taiwan under its control.