Xi, Putin discuss ‘sovereignty’ ahead of US officials’ Taipei visit

The US will send an unofficial delegation as Taiwan’s president is sworn in next week.
By Taejun Kang for RFA
2024.05.16
Taipei, Taiwan
Xi, Putin discuss ‘sovereignty’ ahead of US officials’ Taipei visit Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping meet in Beijing, China, May 16, 2024.
Sputnik/Sergei Guneev/Pool via Reuters

Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed the importance of “respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries” in talks on Thursday with his Russian counterpart, Vladmir Putin, while highlighting the importance of the political settlement of disputes. 

Xi’s comments come just days before the inauguration of a new government in self-ruled Taiwan, which China has threatened to take by force if it moves to declare independence.

“We are committed to promoting the political settlement of hot-spot issues for the purpose of fairness and justice,” Xi told reporters after talks with Putin, China’s Xinhua News Agency reported. 

“In today’s world, the cold war mentality persists, and unilateral hegemony, confrontation of camps and power politics threaten world peace and the security of all countries.” 

It was not immediately clear if Xi and Putin directly discussed the Taiwan issue, which was a topic of discussion between them when they met in October last year.

While China hasn’t supplied Russia with arms for use in Ukraine, it has supported it diplomatically, attributing threats to Russia’s security to the West. China has also condemned Western sanctions on Russia. 

In return, Russia has consistently expressed support for Beijing on matters concerning Taiwan.

Commenting on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Chinese leader said the two sides agreed that a “political settlement of the Ukrainian crisis was the right way forward.” 

“China’s position on this issue has been consistent and clear, including adherence to the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, respect for the legitimate security concerns of all parties, and the building of a new, balanced, effective and sustainable security architecture,” Xi said.

The meeting between Xi and Putin came ahead of the inauguration of William Lai Ching-te as Taiwan’s next president on May 20. The United States is sending an unofficial delegation, including two former government officials, to attend the inauguration.

Beijing has labeled Lai, who was elected in January, a “dangerous separatist” and has rejected his repeated offers for talks. China considers the island its territory, a position the government in Taipei strongly rejects.

The U.S. delegation will not only convey congratulations from the American people to the president-elect Lai and the Taiwanese people but also emphasize the U.S.’ “longstanding commitment in maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” said the American Institute in Taiwan, which represents U.S. interests in Taiwan in the absence of official diplomatic ties.

Xi also stressed the importance of enhancing diplomatic ties with Russia, development strategies and bilateral cooperation to bring greater benefits to the two countries and peoples. 

The Chinese leader expressed his readiness to work with Putin to jointly steer the future direction of bilateral relations and make new plans for cooperation between the two countries in various fields.

Edited by Mike Firn.

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