Russian FM Lavrov to visit China as Beijing, Moscow warm up to counter US’ tough policy push

K J M Varma
·3-min read

Beijing, Mar 18 (PTI) Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will visit China next week amidst the stepped-up efforts by the two countries to further solidify their close ties to counter the Biden administration’s plan to pursue a tough policy towards Beijing and Moscow on a host of issues including human rights violations.

During his two-day visit beginning March 22, Lavrov will hold talks with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on bilateral ties, the recent high-level exchanges as well as international and regional issues of common concern, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a media briefing here on Thursday.

The visit by Lavrov, the longstanding Russian top diplomat, will take place in the immediate backdrop of the first two-day “high-level strategic dialogue' between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and senior Chinese diplomats Yang Jiechi and Wang from Thursday in Anchorage, Alaska.

The dialogue between Beijing and Washington, which is the first after US President Joe Biden came to power, is being held amidst a high decibel rhetoric between both the countries over issues relating to Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Taiwan and Japan.

On Wednesday, China protested the US-Japan joint statement which strongly criticised Beijing’s foreign policy, which Zhao said was a “malicious attack”.

The US-Japan joint statement followed talks held by Blinken and US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin with Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi in Tokyo on Tuesday.

Blinken said that the Biden administration is committed to working with the US allies in dealing with China.

“We will push back if necessary, when China uses coercion or aggression to get its way,” he said.

The China-Japan statement expressed concern over threats to Taiwan, Beijing's human rights violations in Xinjiang, its activities in the South China Sea and the “unilateral action that seeks to change the status quo” over Japan-controlled East China Sea islands over which China has claims.

Reports from Washington said on Thursday that Russia is recalling its ambassador there for consultations amid increasing tensions with Biden's administration, which has imposed sanctions over the poisoning of the Russian Opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who is now in prison.

Also, a declassified report from the US national intelligence director's office alleged that Russian President Vladimir Putin authorised influence operations to help former president Donald Trump in last November's presidential election.

In a television interview aired on Wednesday, Biden, when asked whether he thought Putin is a killer, said 'I do.' '(Putin) will pay a price,' Biden said.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has been quoted by media reports on Thursday stating the US-Russia ties 'are in a difficult state, which Washington has brought to a dead end in recent years.' In his annual press conference here on March 7, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang signalled that China-Russia are firming up their ties, saying that both the countries will continue to cooperate in fighting the Colour Revolutions and disinformation, and safeguarding political security together in 2021, which marks the 20th anniversary of the China-Russia Treaty of Good-Neighbourliness and Friendly Cooperation.

According to Wang, the two countries have agreed to renew the Treaty of Good Neighbourliness and Friendly Cooperation and inject new meaning into it in the new era.

'This is a milestone in China-Russia relations and, more importantly, a new starting point,' he said.

Chinese analysts said that to fight the colour revolutions and disinformation, China and Russia can further promote cooperation on intelligence sharing, cybersecurity management and information exchanges over military affairs and transnational crime, state-run Global Times reported.

Hailing the comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination between China and Russia, Zhao said: 'It is necessary for the two sides to further strengthen communication so as to lay the foundation for advancing bilateral ties this year'. PTI KJV CPS AKJ CPS