Putin: Stop blaming China for COVID-19

Russia and China have common interests in many fields, said Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday during his annual press conference.

“Concerning China, we have overlapping interests in many areas,” Putin said, adding that these mutual interests have contributed to Russia’s positive relations with China.

Commenting on ties with leaders of other countries, Putin said that he has maintained a very friendly, pragmatic and trustful relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping, adding that the pragmatic, cooperative relationship with the Chinese leader will largely benefit the development of the ties between the two countries.

The Russian president also defended China on the origin of the COVID-19, saying that there is no evidence for such accusation and what the world needs to do is to unite against the virus instead of blaming who is responsible for the pandemic.

He also added that sanctions and trade restrictions should be lifted for countries struggling with COVID-19.

According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, in the first 10 months of this year, the two countries’ bilateral trade reached 88 billion U.S. dollars, with gradually narrowing drop in volume. Trade in the fields of agriculture, energy, and cross-border e-commerce actually increased against the odds. The China-Russia Year of Scientific and Technological Innovation has been successfully launched, accumulating more positive elements in the bilateral cooperation.

Several days before the annual press conference, the Chinese and Russian defense ministers signed an agreement to prolong both countries’ missile notification deal for another 10 years — an agreement that requires each side to notify the other before conducting any ballistic missile or space rocket launches.

During the 17th meeting of the China-Russia Energy Cooperation Committee in November, the two sides also agreed to advance energy cooperation, eying for more pragmatic outcomes and a higher level of bilateral relations.

At the 25th regular meeting between Chinese and Russian heads of government, they also agreed to accelerate cooperation in new areas such as joint manufacturing, peaceful utilization of nuclear power, digital economy, and SMEs. 

People-to-people exchanges and cooperation in education, youth, tourism, and the Winter Olympics are also highlighted in the cooperative areas.

China and Russia have been helping and supporting each other since the outbreak of COVID-19. Russia was the first country to send medical experts to China, while China provided Russia with the strongest support in terms of antiviral equipment.