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Xi leaves China for the first time since 2020 for possible meeting with Putin

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Chinese President Xi Jinping leaves his country for the first time since 2020 on Wednesday to attend a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Uzbekistan, where he is expected to meet with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. whom he has not seen in person since before the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

It will be a trip that will last until Friday and, apart from participating in the SCO meeting, the Chinese president will also travel to Kazakhstan at the invitation of his counterpart Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

Xi Jinping Meeting With Putin

Although the Foreign Ministry did not confirm the meeting between the two leaders on Tuesday, the Russian president advanced last week that he plans to meet Xi in the framework of the SCO meeting, of which China, Russia, India, Kazakhstan are members. , Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

In their last in-person meeting in Beijing in early February, the two leaders proclaimed “boundless friendship” between their nations, shortly after which Russia attacked Ukraine.

Since the outbreak of the conflict, China has maintained an ambiguous position and has called for respect for “the territorial integrity of all countries”, including Ukraine, and attention to the “legitimate concerns of all countries”, referring to Russia.

Beijing has repeatedly declared its opposition to sanctions against Moscow as “having no basis in international law” and “not solving the problems”.

The meeting would take place when China’s relations with Western countries are also at a bad time due to tensions in the Taiwan Strait after the visit to the island in August by the president of the United States House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, after which Beijing carried out military maneuvers around the island, something that Taipei defined as “a blockade”.

FIRST TRIP SINCE 2020

Xi last traveled abroad on January 17, 2020 to meet in Myanmar with the country’s then State Councilor, Aung San Suu Kyi, now in prison after the military-orchestrated coup.

Since then and due to the outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic, the Chinese president has held the vast majority of his meetings with his foreign counterparts and with international organizations by videoconference from Beijing.

Except for some exceptions that occurred this year, such as that of the Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, and others during the last Winter Olympics in Beijing last February, the country has not invited foreign leaders.

This situation contrasts with the frequent trips abroad made by Xi since his rise to power in 2013, the year in which he made his first trip outside China to meet precisely with Vladimir Putin.

The zero covid policy, imposed shortly after Xi’s return to China in 2020 and still in force, consists of the isolation of all those infected and their contacts in hospitals or facilities designated for this purpose, strict border control and massive campaigns. of PCR tests, mobility limitations and selective or total confinements where there are cases.

Some commentators have defined Xi’s trip as a symptom of a possible relaxation of said policy in the near future, although health authorities recently reiterated that “zero covid” is the “most scientific and economic” strategy for the Asian country because ” quickly detect new infections and contain the spread at the lowest cost.”

In fact, the tactic, which has limited deaths from covid-19 in China to less than 6,000 according to official figures, has the explicit support of Xi, who said last spring that the measures taken will withstand “the test of time”. and urged the country to fight against any attempt to “distort or question” this policy.

Xi’s trip takes place a month before the 20th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) begins in Beijing, the most important political conclave in the country and in which the president aspires to an unprecedented third term among his immediate predecessors.

At the 2017 Congress, Xi succeeded in including his “political thinking” in the Party Constitution, a prelude to another constitutional amendment passed the following year that removed presidential term limits.

In the political meeting, the most important in the country and held every five years, the international and local situations will also be analyzed, and “action plans and master policies” will be formulated.

The CCP, at the head of China since 1949, commemorated the centenary of its foundation in 2021 and it is expected that at the October congress the current ruler will cement his already enormous power, which some are beginning to compare to that accumulated by Mao Zedong.

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