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Chinese defense minister to visit Russia, Belarus

by Martin Fornusek August 14, 2023 9:23 PM 2 min read
Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu speaks at the Asia Security Summit, known as the Shangri-La Dialogue, in Singapore on June 4, 2023. (Photo credit: Kyodo News via Getty Images)
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Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu will visit Russia and Belarus as part of an official six-day trip, the Chinese Defense Ministry said on Aug. 14.

Having departed today on Aug. 14, the minister is scheduled to attend the Moscow Conference on International Security, where he will deliver a speech and meet Russia's defense departments' representatives and officials of other participating countries, spokesperson of the Chinese Defense Ministry Wu Qian said.

The Moscow Conference on International Security will be held on Aug. 15 with 102 states and eight international organizations invited to participate, the Russian state news agency TASS reported. Representatives of Western governments have not been invited to join the conference.

The participants will "discuss various aspects of security in the conditions of the establishment of a multipolar world order, ways to restore constructive international cooperation in the context of aggressive claims by Euro-Atlantic elites for world domination", TASS said, quoting Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Alexey Zaitsev.

Part of Li's official tour will be a visit to Belarus, where he will meet with the government and military leaders of the country and visit Belarusian military units, spokesperson Wu said.

While officially positioning itself as a neutral party to the Russo-Ukrainian War and calling for a peaceful solution, Beijing has backed Moscow against Western sanctions in joint efforts to curtail the U.S. global influence.

The Chinese government publicly denied that it had provided military aid to the Kremlin, however, a U.S. intelligence report from July 27 suggested that China has in fact exported significant amounts of dual-use technologies that Moscow deploys for military purposes in Ukraine.

Shortly after the publishing of the report, China decided to limit exports of long-range civilian drones due to fears of their potential military use in Ukraine, The Washington Post said.

According to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), the relationship between the two countries may be starting to cool. An exchange of "divergent views" between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi following peace talks in Saudi Arabia may point to an increasing divide over Russia's war in Ukraine, the ISW commented.

US State Department: ‘Productive’ that China attended peace talks
During a press briefing on Aug. 7, U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said that it was “productive that China attended” discussions on peace in Ukraine held in Saudi Arabia on Aug. 5-6.
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