Xi and Putin set to meet for the first time since the war in Ukraine | Business and economy

Chinese and Russian leaders are expected to meet on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Uzbekistan.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin are set to meet next week in Uzbekistan, as Beijing and Moscow step up economic cooperation in the face of Western censorship and sanctions.

The two leaders are to meet on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit to be held on September 15-16, Russian Ambassador to China Andrey Denisov told reporters on Wednesday, according to the report. Russian state news agency Tass.

The meeting is the latest signal of warming ties between China and Russia, which have declared a ‘boundless’ friendship amid growing economic challenges at home and increasingly strained relations with the United States and its allies. abroad.

On Tuesday, Russian energy giant Gazprom said it had signed a deal with China to settle gas payments in yuan and rubles instead of US dollars – part of an effort by Moscow to reduce its reliance on the US financial system after being hit. with many rounds of sanctions for its war in Ukraine.

The Xi-Putin talks would be the first time the pair have come face to face since Moscow invaded Ukraine, and come as the Chinese leader is set to begin his first trip abroad since the coronavirus pandemic began. COVID-19 with a visit to Kazakhstan next week.

The meeting also comes just weeks before Xi wins an unprecedented third term at a key congress of the ruling Communist Party scheduled for mid-October.

“Bold” moment

Alicia García Herrero, chief economist for Asia-Pacific at Natixis in Hong Kong, said she expected Xi and Putin to announce joint economic projects in Central Asia, potentially including new energy pipelines.

“I think Xi Jinping is going to get something big security-wise and economically in Central Asia,” García Herrero told Al Jazeera, describing the timing of their meeting two months before the G20 summit. as “bold”.

“Putin will always sell it as a victory because Xi Jinping visits him, or at least meets him, before Biden. Putin will therefore pay the price in my opinion.

García Herrero said the talks could also lead to the announcement of Chinese investments or support for some sectors of the struggling Russian economy.

Russia’s economy has been hit by far-reaching sanctions, with gross domestic product (GDP) falling 4% in the second quarter.

China’s economy is also under strain due to an ultra-strict “zero COVID” strategy that continues to impose lockdowns and border controls as the pandemic nears its third year.

Beijing refused to condemn the invasion of Moscow and opposed sanctions targeting a large part of the Russian economy.

China has also stepped up economic cooperation with its partner, including increasing imports of Russian oil and lifting import restrictions on Russian wheat, although some Chinese state-owned financial institutions have moved away from the country for fear of violating the penalties.

Speaking via video at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in June, Xi said he expected Sino-Russian trade to set “new records” in the coming months, a testament to “the great cooperation between our two nations”, according to a translation by Russian state television.

Qinduo Xu, a senior fellow at the Pangoal Institution in Beijing, said the meeting between Xi and Putin signaled that the two countries would continue to pursue a “normal relationship” and shared a “new vision” for the world order.

“China and India are among a total of 15 countries that have joined the Russian-led Vostok-2022 military exercises in the Far East; China and Russia have agreed on the price of gas supply via a gas pipeline linking Western Siberia to China. They agreed to use yuan and ruble to replace dollars in payments for gas supply,” Xu told Al Jazeera.

“Their relations are expected to further expand and deepen in various areas with the upcoming summit between the two leaders, mainly due to strong political trust and economic complementarity, and partly due to the US offensives on Beijing. and Moscow.”

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