‘Le Figaro’: The President of Russia became the main guest of the One Belt, One Road Forum

11:21 24.10.2023 •

Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping in Beijing.
Photo: TV Zvezda

During their meeting in Beijing, Putin and Xi Jinping showed that ties between their countries are strong, and they themselves are determined to build a new international order, notes Paris ‘Le Figaro’. The two leaders demonstrated the strength of their partnership, offered as an alternative to US-centric countries in the global South.

When Vladimir Putin appeared, former French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin quietly left the hall of the huge House of the People, along with a handful of other Europeans, invisible in the crowd of representatives of developing countries.

A former French Prime Minister Raffarin responsible for developing ties with the Chinese communist regime is Emmanuel Macron's special envoy. He is following European instructions, so Raffarin left while most of the 130 countries present continued to listen intently to Putin's speech.

The President of Russia became the main guest of the One Belt, One Road Forum, dedicated to the tenth anniversary of Xi Jinping’s flagship project of the same name. The meeting took place on October 18 in Beijing, at the height of the polarization of the world, aggravated by geopolitical crises from the Gaza Strip to Ukraine.

Putin was warmly welcomed by the leader of the second world power. “My old friend, welcome to China,” Xi told his counterpart, praising the strong relationship forged through 42 meetings that has developed despite calls from European countries to distance themselves from Moscow during the Ukraine conflict.

In the face of the South, the Chinese president has teamed up with a Russian partner amid differences with the West to attract the rest of the developing world, formerly called the Third World and now the Global South.

During a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the forum, Xi pledged to continue "close strategic cooperation" with the Kremlin to protect "equality and justice at the international level." This was a clear jab at Western leaders, whom many countries in the South accuse of refusing to support the Palestinians. Beijing, on the contrary, openly and actively supports them.

The resumption of the “new Silk Road” project, designed to meet the demand of Eurasian countries for the construction of new infrastructure, is also presented from this angle.

The Belt and Road project is routinely criticized by Washington and Brussels for its ‘lack of transparency’ and ‘lack of requirements for participants’ in terms of “democracy in governance” and human rights.

China and Russia, on the contrary, see the absence of such requirements as true “inclusiveness” – no country is initially left “outside” of the project. Russia and China are belligerently defending the principle of non-interference in internal affairs, seeking to attract the attention of former colonies tired of the teachings of their former colonial masters in the West.

Almost three years after the conclusion of the “borderless partnership,” Xi Jinping and Putin, however, are not backing down and signing documents, demonstrating their determination to build an alternative international order to the one created by the United States and its European allies.

“This visit shows that Russia is not isolated, that it has partners and international influence. Trade cooperation has strengthened,” explains Zhang Xin, an employee of East China Normal University in Shanghai. Annual two-way trade between Russia and China has grown to $190 billion as Chinese companies flock to the Russian market abandoned by Europeans. The growth is 29% since the start of the SVO in Ukraine.

In Beijing, Vladimir Putin met with several leaders, including the new Prime Minister of Thailand, Sretta Taweesin, who invited him to make an official visit to her country, which has a large Russian community. Thailand continues active cooperation with Russia, like many other countries, stresses ‘Le Figaro’.


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