‘We’ve weathered many storms’: Xi, Putin vow deeper ties in Lunar New Year call

Chinese President Xi Jinping exchanged Lunar New Year greetings with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in a telephone call on Thursday, with the two leaders vowing to deepen their close relationship.

The pair had also exchanged greetings on December 31, ahead of the new calendar year.

Trading new year’s greetings, reviewing the achievements of the past year and looking forward to new ones “has become a good tradition between us”, Xi told Putin during their call, according to Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.

“Looking back on the road travelled, we’ve weathered many storms together,” he said.

Xi spoke highly of the China-Russia relationship in 2023, citing booming trade, active exchanges, frequent visits and robust cooperation, and called for ever-closer strategic collaboration, CCTV reported.

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The Chinese leader also said both countries must defend their sovereignty, security and development interests and “resolutely oppose interference in their internal affairs by external forces”.

The momentum of maintaining robust supply chains must be strengthened, he added.

Both Xi and Putin said they were willing to promote multilateralism and agreed to continue in-depth exchanges on bilateral ties and strategic issues of common interest.

Putin promised that Russia would firmly adhere to the one-China principle, according to CCTV. He said Moscow “opposes any dangerous provocation against China on the issue of Taiwan, and believes that any attempts to impede the peaceful reunification of China will not succeed”.

“I look forward to continuing to maintain close contacts with President Xi Jinping and leading our two countries to new progress in cooperation in various fields,” the report quoted Putin as saying.

Xi and Putin have built a strong rapport since the Chinese leader came to power more than a decade ago. Xi has since visited Russia nine times, with Putin travelling to China 11 times, most recently in October. The two leaders also hold phone calls and exchange messages frequently.

Ties have grown closer in recent years as tensions with the US-led West worsen for both, especially since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, less than three weeks after Xi and Putin declared a “no-limits” partnership.

Xi is also expected to hold talks over the phone with US President Joe Biden “relatively soon”, according to US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.

“Both of us agreed that … we would get them on the phone sooner rather than later,” Sullivan said following talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Bangkok late last month.

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