Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet on the sidelines of a summit in Uzbekistan next week. Russia’s ambassador to Beijing, Andrey Denisov, told reporters on Wednesday. News from the Russian news agency TASS.

According to CNN, this will be the first meeting between Xi and Putin at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit. Relations between the two have been close since the start of the invasion of Ukraine. Also, this will be Xi Jinping’s first foreign visit since the start of the Corona pandemic.

Analysts say his visit comes weeks before a major political meeting in Beijing. He is expected to break with Chinese tradition and seek a third term in power. In the past few decades, Xi has managed to establish himself as China’s most powerful leader.

“This summit promises to be interesting, as it will be the first full-fledged summit after the pandemic,” Tass quoted Russian Ambassador to China Andrey Denisov as saying. I’m not saying online summits aren’t perfect. But still, direct communication between leaders is a different quality of discussion… We are planning a serious, plenary meeting of our leaders with a detailed agenda. We are working with our Chinese partners to implement this.’

Li Zhanshu, China’s third most powerful leader and a member of the Standing Committee of the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party, arrived in Vladivostok to attend the Eastern Economic Forum. Li was expected to meet Putin on Wednesday, Tass said.

Analysts say Xi Jinping’s first foreign trip and first face-to-face meeting with Putin signal the importance of China-Russia relations.

Relations between Moscow and Beijing have grown closer in recent years. Because both have faced tensions with the West. Xi and Putin announced weeks before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that the two countries had a ‘no-limits’ partnership. Beijing has since refused to condemn the aggression. Instead, it repeatedly blamed NATO and the United States for the conflict.

Asked on Wednesday about Xi’s plans to travel to Central Asia this month, China’s foreign ministry said it could not provide any information.

The potential trip to Central Asia, Xi’s first official trip outside China since early 2020, would also be a nod to his own legacy of raising China’s international profile during his decade in power. During a visit to Kazakhstan in 2013, Xi announced his flagship Belt and Road Initiative.

The SCO summit will be held in Samarkand, Uzbekistan from September 15. The organization consists of China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Putin is one of only a handful of world leaders to meet face-to-face with Xi in early 2020. The Russian leader visited Beijing for the Winter Olympics in February this year. He attended the event as the most prominent world leader. The event was boycotted by several Western countries, citing China’s human rights record.

It was in that meeting that the two revealed their ‘unbounded’ friendship and a 5,000-word document opposing them by pledging ‘further expansion of NATO’ and being ‘extremely wary of the negative implications of US Indo-Pacific strategy’.

China continues to speak out against Western sanctions on Moscow and refuses to condemn Russia. Chinese energy companies have bought record amounts of fuel from Russia in defiance of Western sanctions. Analysts see China as a boon for Russian business.

On Tuesday, Russian energy giant Gazprom said it had signed an agreement to exchange gas supplies to China in yuan and rubles instead of dollars. In this regard, Putin said in his speech at the Eastern Economic Forum.

While Russia and China’s ties have grown closer due to personal conflicts with the West, personal ties between the two leaders are already close. Because Xi described Putin as his ‘best and bosom friend’. Analysts say the conflict with the West will further strengthen the momentum to strengthen their relationship.

According to official readouts, the two leaders have spoken by phone twice since the invasion of Ukraine. Their last phone call was on Xi’s 69th birthday. Despite the diplomatic engagement, the two leaders continued a trend of celebrating each other’s birthdays.

At the time, Xi said, ‘China is willing to work with Russia to promote solidarity and cooperation among emerging market countries. It also wants to push the development of international order and global governance in a more just and rational direction.’

Analysts believe the expected visit and summit this month will further strengthen their relationship. Papashashi will also make an important statement about where China’s current and future leader sees his country’s loyalties.

Alfred Wu, an associate professor at the National University of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, said he hoped the meeting would further cement friendships both between Xi and Putin and between China and Russia.

He added that it was not surprising that Xi would choose to meet Putin rather than US or European leaders on his first foreign trip since the pandemic. If he goes to the US or Europe, he will probably face many challenges. When he approaches Putin, he will receive all kinds of praise from his friend.

(September 7)