China and Russia have sent a chilling message to the West as President Xi Jinping told his “dear friend” Vladimir Putin that a “change was coming” that hasn’t happened in 100 years. The two leaders, who have both ruled their countries unchalleged for decades, toasted one another’s health after talks concluded in Moscow on Tuesday.
President Xi Jinping, 69, told his 70-year-old counterpart: “Change is coming that hasn’t happened in 100 years. And we are driving this change together.” He addressed Putin as a “dear friend” and told him to “please, take” as the pair exchanged pleasantries before parting ways at the end of a meeting that is likely to sound alarm bells in the West.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping left Moscow, wrapping up a three-day visit, shortly after Japanese PM Fumio Kishida left Kyiv.
Kishida made a surprise visit Tuesday to Kyiv, stealing some of the attention from Xi’s trip to Moscow where he promoted Beijing’s peace proposal for Ukraine, which Western nations have already dismissed.
Russia and China showcased their “no-limits friendship”, a term agreed last year in Beijing, on Tuesday during a pomp-laden Kremlin ceremony intended to further cement ties amid the fighting in Ukraine.
After hosting Chinese leader Xi Jinping over a seven-course private dinner for 4½ hours the previous night, Russian President Vladimir Putin greeted him in the old imperial palace for talks involving top officials from both countries.
Xi walked slowly up the opulent red-carpeted staircase of the Grand Kremlin Palace as guards in 19th century-style parade uniforms snapped to attention.
Putin was waiting to greet the Chinese leader in St. George’s hall where walls are covered by white-marble plaques with gold engravings of the names of military units and soldiers awarded the order of St. George, a top military award established by Catherine the Great.
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In a tightly choreographed ceremony filled with imperial grandeur, the two leaders entered the huge chandeliered room from opposite sides and shook hands in the middle to the sound of the Russian and Chinese national anthems.
They walked past a lineup of Russian and Chinese officials to sit down for talks. Putin and Xi both wore black suits and dark red ties.
The pageantry reflected the importance of Xi’s three-day visit to Russia that gave a strong political boost to Putin just days after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for the Russian leader on charges of alleged involvement in abductions of thousands of children from Ukraine.
Moscow, which doesn’t recognise the court’s jurisdiction, dismissed the move as “legally null and void,” but the arrest warrant further ramped up the pressure on the Russian leader as the fighting in Ukraine has dragged into a second year.
After the talks, Putin and Xi issued joint declarations pledging to further bolster their “strategic cooperation,” develop cooperation in energy, high-tech industries and other spheres and expand the use of their currencies in mutual trade to reduce dependence on the West.
They said they would develop military cooperation and conduct more joint sea and air patrols, but there was no mention of any prospective Chinese weapons supplies to Russia that the U.S. and other Western allies feared.
Putin and Xi made long statements after the talks to a selected audience of officials and reporters from their pools. They didn’t take questions.
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