Calling President Vladimir Putin a long-time great friend of China, a Chinese envoy meets the Russian leader in Moscow to discuss and prepare for Putin's trip to China next month, and another visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Russia in July.
Only days after Xi's meeting with President Donald Trump in Florida, Zhang Gaoli, the First Vice-Chairman of China's State Council arrived in Moscow to plan with Putin and his staff the series of bilateral summits between long-time allies China and Russia.
The trip has been scheduled in advance and according to Chinese officials, it has nothing to do with Syria.
The meeting between the Chinese envoy and Putin appears to be a strong confirmation of the continuing strong ties between the two countries. The scheduled series of bilateral summits is another testament to the solid relations between China and Russia.
Zhang Gaoli also mentioned in his message to Putin that the two leaders-Xi and Putin-have met more than 20 times already and described the friendship between the two as "deeply personal". He also praised the efforts of Putin and Xi for setting the strategic direction and constantly advancing the friendship and cooperation between their countries.
The Chinese envoy also told Putin that his participation with the One Belt-One Road international cooperation forum in Beijing in May is of great importance to China.
President Trump informed Xi of the U.S. decision to launch airstrikes against Syria in response to its chemical attacks over the now controversial chocolate cake when the Chinese President was in Florida for a meeting with Trump. In his address to the nation speech after the airstrikes, Trump called on civilized nations to condemn Syria and stand with the U.S. for justice. U.S. allies led by the U.K., Germany, Australia, and others promptly gave their support to the U.S. for its actions on Syria. China, along with Russia, said they were not in favor of the move.
Trump also asked Xi to press North Korea to stop its nuclear arms ambitions. The Chinese President gave his assurance to Trump during the meeting that he will grant the request, but Chinese media are now saying that Xi was merely being courteous when he agreed to Trump's request.
Chinese media are now saying it's wrong to believe that China shares the concerns of the U.S. on the North Korean nuclear program, or that China is committed to do more to stop North Korea from pursuing its nuclear ambitions.
They are also saying now that China is also not happy with the U.S. carrier deployment to the Korean coast, or for what they think is Trump's threats to solve the Korean crisis by supposedly "unilateral action". The Chinese media are even saying the so-called threat is nothing but an empty bluff from the U.S.
The meeting between Trump and Xi was described by some observers as an occasion to socialize between two leaders of two countries who are " not natural friends". Could it be because for the Chinese their natural friend could only be Putin? Or could it be Putin's effort to play catch-up with Trump after his own meeting with Xi? Maybe Putin wants to ensure that China's loyalty remains with him.