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International relations

China ropes in Russia to push back against Western sanctions

Beijing and Moscow accuse Washington of creating Cold War-like alliance

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, meets Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Guilin in southern China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region on Monday.   © AP

SHANGHAI -- China and Russia on Tuesday accused the U.S. of creating a Cold War-like alliance and hit out against Western sanctions tied to human rights, rejecting them as political interference in their internal affairs.

In a news conference after a bilateral meeting in Guangxi, southern China, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said both Moscow and Beijing regarded U.S. President Joe Biden's multilateral foreign policy as damaging to the existing world order.

"We noted the destructive nature of the U.S.'s intentions to undermine the United Nations-centered international legal architecture relying on military-political alliances of the Cold War era and creating new closed alliances in the same vein," he said.

Lavrov was invited to China by his counterpart, Wang Yi, following the latter's fiery meeting with top U.S. officials in Alaska last week. It also comes after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin met with counterparts in Japan and South Korea -- both U.S. allies -- and as America's top diplomat meets European partners in Brussels.

In a joint statement, Beijing and Moscow defended their right to choose their own development path.

"All countries should firmly uphold the international system with the United Nations at its core, and an international order that is based on international law," the statement in Chinese read.

The two ministers called for a special summit of the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.

The statement came after the U.S., European Union, the U.K. and Canada on Monday imposed sanctions on Chinese officials for alleged human rights abuses against Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang -- the first Western-led sanctions against China under the Biden administration.

Beijing retaliated by sanctioning some 10 individuals and four organizations within the EU.

Wang told reporters that no one can interfere in China's internal affairs through fabricated lies and manipulation by a few Western powers that do not represent the international community.

"We reject zero-sum geopolitical games and reject unilateral illegitimate sanctions that our Western colleagues resort to more and more often," Lavrov said.

Analysts do not expect disruptions in commercial ties stemming from the sanctions, unless further actions are taken against China.

"The biggest risk for multinational companies will be whether the U.S. convinces its allies to adopt sanctions that mirror the import and investment prohibitions that Donald Trump imposed on China, but which President Biden has since maintained," said Nick Marro of The Economist Intelligence Unit. "There seems to be more appetite for a general coordinated approach among Western governments, and so we shouldn't rule out that risk."

Ian Storey, senior fellow at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore, said that Washington's spats with China and Russia have pushed Beijing and Moscow closer together.

"The meeting between Wang Yi and Sergey Lavrov so soon after the Alaska talks speaks to the ever-closer relationship between their two countries," Storey said. "Although a formal alliance between the two countries isn't on the cards yet, China and Russia are determined to deepen cooperation across the full spectrum of economic, political and military activities, many of which will be aimed at countering U.S. pressure."

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