Tag Archives: Li Zhanshu

Russia’s Fulsomeness Discomforts Its Firm Friend China

Li Zhanshu, chairman of China's National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Russia's far eastern city of Vladivostok, Sept. 7, 2022. Photo credit: Xinhua

MOSCOW HAS BEEN far more forthcoming about the help Russia is receiving from China than Beijing, and probably than Beijing would like.

News that President Xi Jinping would meet his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, during the first day of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Samarkand on September 15-16, first came from the Russian side, as did statements that the two would discuss Russia’s war in Ukraine and Taiwan. Beijing has yet to confirm that the two men will meet one-to-one.

Beijing has tried to walk a fine line in public between fulfilling its commitments to its ‘no limits’ friendship with Moscow, declared when Putin visited Xi during February’s Beijing Winter Olympics, and opening itself to Western sanctions for aiding Russia’s Ukraine war.

In that light, the official Russian readout of the meeting last week between Russian lawmakers and Li Zhanshu, chairman of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee and the third most senior Party official (seen in the photo above with Putin), would have been received uncomfortably in Beijing.

This quoted Li as saying:

China understands and supports Russia on issues that represent its vital interests, in particular on the situation in Ukraine…We fully understand the necessity of all the measures taken by Russia aimed at protecting its key interests, we are providing our assistance.

Chinese reports did not mention Ukraine.

Russia’s Tass news agency also quoted Li as telling Vyacheslav Volodin, his counterpart in the Russian Duma (parliament), during a separate meeting:

In the context of US sanctions imposed against you and against us, some of our joint areas of cooperation are indeed gradually becoming more sensitive, but I am convinced that we should not halt our cooperation just because we are afraid of sanctions.

This week, Moscow appears to have been trying hard to tone down its fulsomeness about the bilateral relationship. Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov said at a briefing in Moscow merely that Moscow values China’s ‘balanced approach’ to the Ukraine conflict.

This Bystander suspects that such carefully balanced rhetoric will be challenging to sustain in Samarkand as the two leaders put forth their alternative world order to challenge the United States.

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