Russia’s President Putin has met in the Oval Hall of the Kremlin with Li Zhanshu, Director of the General Office of the Communist Party of China, and chief of staff of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The meeting was held directly after Li Zhanshu held talks with his Russian counterpart Anton Vaino, who is the head of the Russian President’s Executive Office and who is President Putin’s chief of staff.
I have previously explained who Li Zhanshu is, and why his visit is important, and the likely reason for his visit, which is the ongoing attempt by the Trump administration to cause trouble between China and Russia, and China’s and Russia’s concern to squelch any mistaken impressions which might be caused by that attempt.
That in turn explains the way the Chinese and the Russians – undoubtedly by pre-arrangement – used Li Zhanshu’s meeting with Putin to publicise a personal message from President Xi Jinping to Putin. The Kremlin’s transcript of Li Zhanshu’s words reads as follows
Before my departure, I went especially to see President Xi Jinping and asked him what he wanted to pass on to you. He told me to say that today, Chinese-Russian relations are going through their best period ever in our history.
Today, our relations are deservedly called an example of relations between great powers, characterised by cooperation and mutual benefit. Today, our relations are very solid, mature, and are distinguished by strategic cooperation and a lasting nature.
He also said that despite the serious changes in the international situation, we will continue to work with you unfailingly adhering to three constants, namely: regardless of the circumstances, we will not change our policy of deepening and developing our strategic partnership and cooperation; our policy, based on joint development and prosperity, will not change; and our joint efforts to defend peace and justice and promote cooperation in the world will not change. These were the words of President Xi Jinping.
(bold italics added)
The “serious changes in the international situation” of course refers to the change of administration in Washington, and the new administration’s attempt to make trouble between China and Russia. President Xi Jinping in his personal message to President Putin went out of his way to say that this attempt could not succeed, and that China’s strategic partnership with Russia “will not change”.
The message is of course primarily intended for the Trump administration. The Chinese and the Russians scarcely need to reassure each other about the depth of their relationship, which they are of course far more informed about than anyone else. However Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin are anxious that there should be no illusions about it in Washington. Alas, given the chaos in Washington, it is doubtful whether anyone there is paying attention.