SAMARKAND, Uzbekistan, Sept 16 (Reuters) – China’s Xi Jinping said on Friday that the world had entered a new period of turbulence and that partners such as Russian President Vladimir Putin and Central Asian leaders should prevent foreign powers from instigating “colour revolutions”.
Xi, on his first trip outside China since early 2020, told a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in the ancient Uzbek Silk Road city of Samarkand that they should support each other to deter foreign meddling.
“The world has entered a new period of turbulent change, we must grasp the trend of the times, strengthen solidarity and cooperation, and promote the construction of a closer community of destiny with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization,” Xi said.
“We should support each other’s efforts to safeguard security and development interests, prevent external forces from staging colour revolutions, and jointly oppose interference in the internal affairs of other countries under any pretext.”
Xi criticised “zero-sum games and bloc politics”, a veiled reference to the United States which Beijing has criticised in the past for leaning on allies to counter China’s spectacular rise to the status of a superpower in waiting.
Putin, Russia’s paramount leader since 1999, has repeatedly said that the United States is plotting so-called “colour revolutions” similar to those which swept established elites from power in places such as Ukraine.
The United States denies such claims and says they show the paranoid nature of Putin’s Russia.
The conflict in eastern Ukraine began in 2014 after a pro-Russian president was toppled in Ukraine’s “Maidan” Revolution and Russia annexed Crimea, with Russian-backed forces fighting Ukraine’s armed forces.
China’s stability-obsessed Communist Party, which is next month likely to give Xi a third leadership term and cement his place as the country’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong, has in the past warned against so called “colour revolutions”.
PUTIN AND XI
Xi and Putin last met face-to-face at the opening of the Winter Olympics, when they declared a “no limits” partnership, backing each other over standoffs on Ukraine and Taiwan with a promise to collaborate more against the West.
At a meeting on Thursday, Putin said he understood that Xi had questions and concerns about the situation in Ukraine but praised China’s leader for what he said was a “balanced” position on the conflict.
But there was no sign from Xi that his support for Putin was weakening. Xi did not mention the war in Ukraine.
Xi did stay away from a dinner attended by 11 heads of states in line with his delegation’s COVID-19 policy, a source in the Uzbek government told Reuters on Friday.
Putin, who has yet to comment in public on a lightning rout of his forces in north-eastern Ukraine, said emerging world powers would not accept the West’s attempt to impose its rules on them from outside.
“Fundamental transformations have been outlined in world politics and the economy, and they are irreversible,” Putin said.
Putin touted the SCO, a security body including Russia, China, India, Pakistan and four former Soviet Central Asian republics, as encompassing half the world’s population and a quarter of global gross domestic product.
For Iran, which is due to be admitted, the SCO is a potential anti-U.S. club: Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said the body needed to come up with ways to thwart “draconian” U.S. sanctions.
Leaders spoke on an eclectic mix of topics.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called on leaders to address the supply chain crisis while Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif spoke at length about devastating floods and climate change.
As the leaders of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan listened to Putin and Xi, a deadly border dispute swiftly escalated towards war before a ceasefire was finally agreed.
Putin even suggested the group should consider staging its own major sporting competition.
His ally Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko suggested dates which would coincide with those of the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics and the 2026 Milano-Cortina Winter Olympics.