It was the Japanese newspaper ‘Yomiuri Shimbun’ – the largest of the country’s five national newspapers – which yesterday headlined that Xi Jinping had declined Putin‘s invitation. She got that from “diplomatic sources”. The reason? Fears of “an increase in tensions between China and the West”.
Putin is said to have invited his colleague during a telephone conversation on June 15. However, Xi Jinping is said to have replied that this was “difficult” in the near future due to the measures surrounding the corona virus.
According to the Kremlin, the visit will continue, but only if the corona restrictions on the Chinese side are relaxed. Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov said today.
“The fact is that certain corona restrictions remain in China and that is normal. We have to understand that. Putin has a valid invitation to visit China and Xi Jinping has a valid invitation to visit Russia. The visits will take place as soon as possible,” said Peskov.
The two leaders last met in person on February 4, during Putin’s visit to China for the Olympic Games in Beijing. Putin then said bilateral relations between the two countries had reached “an unprecedented level”.
The protocol requires Xi Jinping to visit Russia first, but that is not yet in sight. The Chinese president has not been abroad since the outbreak of the corona pandemic at the end of January 2020.