Xi Jinping of China and Vladimir Putin of Russia met Thursday in Uzbekistan. The two leaders are in the country to attend a meeting of eight Asian leaders.
The trip was Xi’s first since the COVID-19 crisis began in early 2020. Many Chinese are not able to travel because of the country’s zero-COVID policy.
Xi called Putin “my old friend” as the two men met.
For Putin, the trip comes just days after the Russian army lost wide territory in northeastern Ukraine. Russia invaded Ukraine in late February and the war has caused economic problems throughout the world.
Putin thanked Xi for China’s position on the conflict, calling it “balanced.”
But, the Russian leader also spoke of Chinese “concerns” about the war. He promised to offer, in his words “a detailed explanation of Russia’s position” on Ukraine during the meeting.
China and Russia are members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, or SCO. The other members in the security alliance are India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan.
The group is meeting as fighting in Ukraine reaches its ninth month, fighting renews in Asia between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and tension is high between the U.S. and China after American officials visited Taiwan in August.
The SCO was formed in 2001, partly to answer to the powerful international influence of the United States.
Putin spoke about this influence at the start of his separate meeting with Xi.
He called the effort by the U.S. and its allies to continue their influence around the world “ugly” and their ideas “unacceptable for the vast majority of countries on the globe.” Xi said Russia and China want to set an example of responsible world power and play a leading part in a quickly changing world.
During the SCO meeting, China, Russia and Mongolia discussed a pipeline that would send oil from Russia to China.
Russia has supported China in its efforts to influence nations in southeast Asia and pressure Taiwan. Putin said Russia condemned “the provocations of the U.S.”
Putin also met with leaders from Iran and other nations of the SCO. He will meet with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well.
It is not clear if Xi will speak with Modi of India. The two nations are disputing territory along their borders in the Himalaya mountains.
Other subjects likely to be discussed at the meeting include a “global security” effort proposed by China as a way to answer a group called “the quad,” which includes the U.S., Japan, Australia and India.
While Russia and China are working together on some issues, there may still be some tension. One concern for Russia is China’s growing influence in central Asia. In the past, Russia has been the most influential in that area, which includes countries such as Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. China is working to build railways and other trade paths in the area.
I’m Dan Friedell.
Dan Friedell adapted this story for VOA Learning English based on reports by the Associated Press and Reuters.
Words in This Story
alliance –n. a relationship between people or groups who decide to work together
ugly –adj. not attractive; unpleasant
vast –adj. great in size or amount
globe –n. the earth
provoke –v. to cause something to happen; to cause someone to get angry
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