(Bloomberg) — President Xi Jinping called on Russia to help bolster their countries’ ties at multilateral groups, as both nations seek to counter a US-led world order they’ve become increasingly isolated within.
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“China is willing to work with Russia to continue to firmly support each other on issues of core interests, and strengthen cooperation in multilateral arenas,” Xi told Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin on Wednesday in Beijing, state-run broadcaster China Central Television reported.
The Chinese leader named the United Nations, the security-focused Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the emerging-markets bloc of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, as well as the Group of 20 as places where Beijing and Moscow could better collaborate, according to the report.
The Russian leader echoed Xi’s sentiments, saying: “Russia is willing to work with China to promote the process of multi-polarization and consolidate the international law-based global order.”
A multipolar world is emerging comprising rival factions divided largely by their attitudes to the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine and Beijing’s territorial claims over Taiwan and controversial economic practices. Those divisions were on display last weekend at a Group of Seven summit at which leaders called out China and Russia in a joint communique.
Xi is trying to reorient global affairs away from Western groupings to create a world where China can expand its interests without fearing the threat of economic or military pressure from the US. Earlier this month, he hosted the inaugural in-person China-Central Asia Summit, gathering the leaders of five former Soviet nations as the G-7 played out in Japan.
Mishustin’s inaugural visit to China as prime minister comes as Xi has dispatched a special envoy to Ukraine and several European countries. The simultaneous trips symbolize how Beijing is trying to both portray Xi as a global peacemaker while balancing ties with Moscow that have drawn criticism from the West.
Earlier in the day, the Russian leader, who is sanctioned by the US and many of its allies, told China’s Premier Li Qiang that relations between Russia and China were at an “unprecedented high level.”
“They are characterized by mutual respect of each other’s interests, the desire to jointly respond to challenges, which is associated with increased turbulence in the international arena, and the pressure of illegitimate sanctions from the collective West,” he said.
Russia is facing economic headwinds from a US-led sanctions campaign designed to punish the Kremlin for its full-scale invasion of its neighbor. China has refrained from joining that campaign, and since the war bilateral trade has boomed. China’s exports to Russia hit a record in April, jumping 153% from a year earlier to $9.6 billion.
Mishustin on Tuesday told a business forum in Shanghai that bilateral trade had helped Russia decrease its “dependence on the dollar,” according to Russian news agency Interfax.
Beijing is also battling its own US sanctions, as President Joe Biden tries to block the world’s No. 2 economy from accessing advanced chips. China showed its limited ability to retaliate this week by targeting imports of Micron Technology Inc., a memory chip company that is relatively easy for China to replace.
(Updates with Xi’s comments throughout. A previous version corrected the Russian prime minister’s comments about sanctions.)
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