Russian Foreign Minister Visits Beijing to Highlight Strong Ties Amid Ukraine War

BEIJING — Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov arrived in Beijing on Monday to showcase the solid ties with China, a major diplomatic ally, as Moscow continues its war in Ukraine.

The two expansive authoritarian states, increasingly at odds with democracies, aim to increase their influence in regions like Africa, the Middle East, and South America. China has supported Russia’s claim that President Vladimir Putin invaded the country in 2022 due to provocations from the West, despite a lack of substantial evidence.

Russian state news agency Tass reported that the ministers intended to “discuss the situations in Ukraine and the Asia-Pacific region, as well as issues of bilateral cooperation and collaboration in the global arena,” according to Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova.

Lavrov is scheduled to meet with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, who has visited Russia during the conflict and has maintained China’s position of not calling Russia’s actions in Ukraine an invasion.

China has often taken a confrontational stance against the United States and its allies. Both China and Russia have participated in joint military exercises and are perceived as seeking to replace democracies with autocracies in regions where they have sway.

Mao Ning, spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, stated on Monday that “China has an impartial and just position on the Ukraine issue,” despite China’s obvious support for Russia in the Ukraine war.

“We have consistently and proactively promoted peace negotiations and political resolutions. China is not the source of the Ukraine crisis, and we have not and will not take advantage of it in any way,” Mao told reporters during a routine press conference.

Additionally, China has said it is not giving Russia arms or military support, but it has maintained substantial economic ties with Moscow, along with India and other nations.

Mao said, “We have always regulated the export of dual-use items in accordance with the law,” referring to industrial products that can be used for both civilian and military purposes, such as drones.

Mao stated, “The country in question should not malign or undermine the normal relationship between China and Russia.” This “country in question” referred to the United States, China’s main geopolitical adversary.

During a telephone conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping last week, US President Joseph Biden questioned China about its military connections with Russia, which is striving to rebuild its industrial foundation as its invasion of Ukraine persists. Additionally, he urged Beijing to use its influence over North Korea to control the isolated and volatile nuclear power.

Adding to the tension between the two nations, US legislators developed a new law that would prohibit TikTok, the widely used social media application, unless its Chinese owner ByteDance sells its shares in the platform within six months of the bill being signed into law.

Lawmakers worry that ByteDance may be pressured by Chinese authorities to surrender data on the 170 million Americans who use TikTok.

Every Chinese corporation, particularly those in social media, is mandated by law to give user data to the government.