AOn his first trip abroad in more than two and a half years, China's head of state and party leader Xi Jinping arrived in Kazakhstan on Wednesday. After talks with President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in the capital, Nur-Sultan, Xi Jinping will travel to Samarkand, Uzbekistan, for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit on Thursday and Friday. A meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin is also planned. According to Russian information, it should be “detailed” about the Ukraine war.
It is the heads of state's first face-to-face meeting since the Russian invasion. In the conflict, China is backing Putin and blaming the US and NATO as the main culprits. During a recent visit to Moscow, parliament leader Li Zhanshu, Beijing's No. 3, said China supports Russia's interests, "particularly in the situation in Ukraine," like him quoted the Russian Parliament. "We see the US and its NATO allies expanding their presence near the Russian border, which seriously threatens national security and the lives of Russian citizens," he was quoted as saying.
First trip abroad since January 2020
“We fully understand the need for all measures taken by Russia aimed at protecting its core interests. We provide our support," Li Zhanshu said, according to the Duma. On the Ukraine question, Russia had been put in an "impossible position" and had "resolutely answered". In the reports of Chinese state media about the visit, however, Ukraine was not mentioned at all.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi are also attending the SCO summit in the former Soviet republic. A meeting between Modi and Xi Jinping would be the first meeting between the two politicians since the deadly border incidents in the Himalayas two years ago.
The summit is expected to complete Iran's admission into the organization. In addition to China, Russia and India, the organization also includes Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. So far, Iran has had observer status, as have Belarus and Mongolia. Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Turkey are classified as partner countries.
China's president has not traveled abroad since January 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. He had only traveled to the Chinese special administrative region for the celebrations marking the 25th anniversary of the return of the British crown colony of Hong Kong on July 1.