Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday reaffirmed his country's support for Russia’s "sovereignty and security" amid tensions between Moscow and the West over the war in Ukraine.
In a phone call with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, the Chinese leader said his government is "willing to continue mutual support with Russia on issues related to sovereignty, security, and issues of major concern,” according to China's state TV.
The Chinese president praised the “good momentum of development” in bilateral relations between Moscow and Beijing since the start of the year “in the face of global turmoil and changes.”
He said Beijing was willing to “intensify strategic coordination between the two countries.”
China, Xi declared, was ready to “strengthen communication and coordination” with Russia in international organizations and “push the international order and global governance towards more just and reasonable development.”
A Kremlin account of the phone conversation said the Chinese leader underscored the “legitimacy of Russia’s actions in protecting its fundamental national interests in the face of security challenges created by external forces.”
The two leaders agreed to ramp up economic cooperation in the face of "unlawful" Western sanctions, the Kremlin said in a statement.
"It was agreed to expand cooperation in the energy, financial, industrial, transport and other areas, taking into account the situation in the global economy that has become more complicated due to the unlawful sanctions policy of the West," the statement noted.
It was the second phone conversation between Xi and Putin since the latter ordered the launch of a military operation in Ukraine on February 24, which is now into its fourth month.
Xi told Putin during the conversation that Beijing acted independently concerning Ukraine, according to China's CCTV report.
Xi also urged other nations to play a responsible role in resolving the simmering crisis in Ukraine.
The United States and its NATO allies have pressed the Chinese president to take a more critical stance against Russia for the war in Ukraine, accusing China of taking sides with Russia in the war.
In their February conversation, Xi had informed Putin of China’s support for the resolution of “issues through negotiations.”
Russia launched a military operation in Ukraine in late February, following Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements and Moscow’s recognition of the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.
At the time, Russian President Vladimir Putin said one of the goals of what he called a “special military operation” was to “de-Nazify” Ukraine.
The war in Ukraine has inflamed tensions between Russia and the West, with the US and its NATO allies imposing unprecedented sanctions on Moscow and supplying a large cache of weaponry to Ukraine.
China says the sanctions are unilateral and not authorized by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
China and Russia have developed close ties in recent years. They issued a lengthy 5,000-word statement early in February against the expansion of NATO, calling the US-led military alliance a relic of the Cold War.