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Chinese defense minister to visit Moscow

Li Shangfu is expected to meet with his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu next week

China’s State Councilor and Defense Minister Li Shangfu is scheduled to pay an official visit to Moscow from April 16 to 19 to meet with Russian counterpart Sergey Shoigu, a spokesperson for the Chinese military announced on Friday.

In his first overseas visit since becoming Defense Minister last month, Li is expected to hold talks with Russian military officials and visit military academies, the spokesperson said.

“In recent years, under the strategic guidance of the two heads of state, the relations between the Chinese and Russian militaries have been continually developing at a high level,” the spokesperson noted, adding that “new progress has been made in strategic communication, joint exercises and training, and practical cooperation” which all contribute to the China-Russia strategic partnership for a new era.

Li will arrive just weeks after Chinese leader Xi Jinping visited Moscow for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The two leaders vowed to “further deepen mutual military trust” and signed a joint statement declaring that the friendship between the two nations has “no limits.”

China has remained neutral in the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine and has refused to impose sanctions on Moscow or send weapons to either side, instead calling for a peaceful resolution to the hostilities.

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Nevertheless, the US has seen the growing relations between Moscow and Beijing as a threat to its geopolitical dominance, as stated on Tuesday by CIA director William Burns. He claimed that Russian-Chinese ties will present a “formidable challenge” to his agency for years to come.

Western officials have also repeatedly issued warnings to China not to provide any military aid to Russia, threatening “consequences” should it choose to do so.

Li Shangfu, who previously served as the director of China’s Equipment Development Department before becoming Defense Minister, is currently under US sanctions for “engaging in significant transactions with Rosoboronexport, Russia’s main arms export entity.”

April 14, 2023 at 05:30PM

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