China says political trust with Russia has deepened after envoy’s visit

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China said on Saturday that mutual political trust with Russia has continued to deepen after Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu visited the country this week and met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

China is willing to work with Russia to implement their strategic partnership and promote further progress in their relationship, the foreign ministry also said in its statement.

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Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a strategic partnership in Moscow a year ago aimed at countering the influence of the United States and which they said would have no “forbidden” areas of cooperation.

Ma also met with Russia’s Deputy Foreign Ministers Andrey Rudenko and Sergey Vershinin during his February 2-3 visit, the statement said. During his meetings, he exchanged views on bilateral and multilateral cooperation as well as international and regional issues of common concern, it added.

The statement comes on the heels of heightened tension between China and the United States after the flight of a Chinese balloon over US airspace. Washington has described it as a spy balloon while China says it is an airship used for civilian meteorological and other scientific purposes.

The uproar has led to the postponement of a visit to China by Secretary of State Antony Blinken that had been expected to start on Friday.

The foreign ministry statement about Ma’s visit did not mention Ukraine, where Russia has waged a military operation for nearly a year. China has refrained from condemning it or calling it an “invasion.”

Russia’s Foreign Minister Lavrov said on Thursday that Moscow’s relations with China had no limits and, despite not being a formal military alliance, were of a much higher and broader nature.

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