Vladimir Putin sparked a walkout from the third edition of the Belt and Road Forum (BRI) in Beijing prior to delivering his address.
Top European officials, including the former French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin and the French and Italian ambassadors to China, walked out as the Russian leader prepared to speak.
However, no reports suggested that Hungarian leader Viktor Orban left the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, where the conference was being held.
It’s been reported that the delegates returned after Putin finished his speech.
The 71-year-old Russian president was in the Chinese capital for the Asian powerhouse’s biggest diplomatic event on the calendar.
His appearance was a demonstration of Sino-Russian unity as the war in Ukraine continues to rage and western relations with Beijing remain fraught. The heavyweight nations are to hold side meetings, independent of the Forum.
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Putin, describing Xi Jingping as a “dear friend”, told the remaining delegates in the hall: “Russia and China, like most countries of the world, share the desire for equal, mutually beneficial cooperation in order to achieve universal sustainable and long-term economic progress and social well-being, while respecting the diversity of civilization and the right of each State to its own development model.”
The Russian president, who was making his second known trip outside the former Soviet Union since the start of the war in Ukraine, added that the Chinese infrastructure initiative coheres with Russia’s policy intentions: “As for the Northern Sea Route, Russia does not just offer its partners to actively use its transit potential, I will say more: we invite interested states to participate directly in its development, and we are ready to provide reliable ice breaker navigation, communication and supply.”
Lauding President Xi, he celebrated the “successes” of “our Chinese friends”, adding that China’s development is “really important for us”.
The CCP leader hit out at the US during his speech, blasting recent trade restrictions.
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He said: “Ideological confrontation, geopolitical rivalry and bloc politics are not the choice for us, but we stand against economic sanctions, economic coercions, and decoupling and supply chain disruptions.”
His comments came after the US Commerce Department on Tuesday tightened controls on tech exports to China.
The Chinese president positioned the communist state as a leader in international cooperation and relationship-building. Noting that the Belt and Road Forum involved more than 150 countries and 30 international corporations since its launch ten years ago.
“China can only do well when the world is doing well. When China does well, the world will get even better,” the leader said at the forum’s opening ceremony that sought to project Xi’s vision for a “new era”.
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