China minister lauds Putin for ‘promoting world peace’


BEIJING: China’s defense minister congratulated Russian President Vladimir Putin for “promoting world peace,” underscoring the warm relations between the two nations more than a year after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine sparked Europe’s biggest conflict since World War II.
A clip posted on the Chinese company NetEase Inc’s short-video platform appears to show Li Shangfu reading prepared remarks in a meeting with Putin and Li’s Russian counterpart on Sunday.
Calling Putin “an extraordinary state leader,” Li cited his “important contributions to promoting world peace and development.”
The comments highlighted the contrast between Beijing’s approach to the Kremlin leader – who’s wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes – and that of the US and its allies, which have hit Russia with sweeping sanctions and sought to isolate Putin over a war that’s killed tens of thousands and displaced millions.
Top diplomats from the Group of Seven leading industrial nations Tuesday condemned “Russian aggression” and vowed to continue “supporting Ukraine as long as it takes.”
It wasn’t clear what the source of the Li video was. The remarks were not included in Chinese state media’s reporting on the meeting of the three men or in the official Kremlin readout of the event. China’s Defense Ministry didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
Li’s visit to Russia is the first by a Chinese defense minister since the war began. Beijing has been Russia’s biggest supporter since Putin ordered the February 2022 invasion. Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Moscow in March and has spoken to Putin several times on the phone over the past year. Xi said “China highly values the relationship with Russia” during his trip.
China has tried to cast itself as a peacemaker in the war, and unveiled a vague 12-point peace blueprint in February. Its call for a ceasefire that would freeze Russian forces in Ukraine is a non-starter for Kyiv, the US and Ukraine’s other supporters.
Xi hasn’t spoken with Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy since the fighting started, though there were reports around the time of Xi’s visit to Moscow that a call is planned.
In the meeting with Li on Sunday, Putin highlighted the exchange of intelligence and joint maneuvers in the Far East and Europe, the Interfax news service reported.
Li said China was willing to “further strengthen strategic communication between the two militaries” according to state broadcaster China Central Television.


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