Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang attends a welcome ceremony upon his arrival in Saint Petersburg, on November 6, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
Chinese Prime Minster Li Keqiang has paid a visit to Russia to discuss issues of common concern with his counterpart Dmitry Medvedev and President Vladimir Putin as the two countries seek to deepen their strategic partnership.
Li arrived in Saint Petersburg on Sunday and is set to officially meet with Medvedev on Monday, with the two sides expected to sign cooperation agreements in several areas such as economy and investments as well as cooperation in the nuclear industry among other issues.
Li and Medvedev are also slated to attend the 21st regular meeting of the two countries’ premiers. The senior Chinese official will later sit down for talks with Putin in a visit to the capital, Moscow.
The Chinese premier paid official visits to Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Latvia before his stop in Russia on the last leg of his Eurasia tour.
Beijing’s latest diplomatic efforts are said to be significant because it would bring the five nations closer.
Analysts say relations between Beijing and Moscow are expected to go beyond economics and political sphere and move on to a military-political alliance.
China and Russia hold joint naval drill in the South China Sea in September 2016. (Photo by AFP)
During a visit by Putin to Beijing earlier this year, Chinese President Xi Jinping offered the formation of an alliance “before which NATO would be weak, and this would put an end to the imperialist ambitions of the West.”
Xi said the region is currently “observing the USA’s aggressive actions, both in regards of Russia and China.”
Moscow and Beijing have military drills in recent years in the South China Sea, which is the subject of a territorial dispute between China and its regional neighbors including Taiwan, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines, with the US having waded into the row against Beijing.
The presence of US warships in the South China Sea has long been a main source of concern for both China and Russia, which say such extra-regional presence only adds to tensions in the region.