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Xi Jinping, Putin Meet At Olympic Games, Release Joint Statement

On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in person as the Beijing Winter Games began. 

The pair issued a joint statement, referring to the two nations as “the sides” in the document. 

They referred to criticism over human rights abuses, stating they “believe that the advocacy of democracy and human rights must not be used to put pressure on other countries. They oppose the abuse of democratic values and interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states under the pretext of protecting democracy and human rights, and any attempts to incite divisions and confrontation in the world.”

They called “on the international community to respect cultural and civilizational diversity and the rights of peoples of different countries to self-determination. They stand ready to work together with all the interested partners to promote genuine democracy.”

In a rebuff of countries that have spoken out against China in anticipation of the Olympic Games being held in a country where human rights abuse and genocide is taking place, the statement added, “The Russian side supports a successful hosting by the Chinese side of the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Beijing in 2022.”

“The sides highly appreciate the level of bilateral cooperation in sports and the Olympic movement and express their readiness to contribute to its further progressive development,” they added.

They called out the United States for various actions, noting, that they “are seriously concerned about the trilateral security partnership between Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom (AUKUS), which provides for deeper cooperation between its members in areas involving strategic stability, in particular their decision to initiate cooperation in the field of nuclear-powered submarines.”

They also discussed their “strong mutual support for the protection of their core interests, state sovereignty and territorial integrity, and oppose interference by external forces in their internal affairs,” adding that Russia “reaffirms its support for the One-China principle, confirms that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China, and opposes any forms of independence of Taiwan.”

They also said they “oppose further enlargement of NATO” and call on the group “to abandon its ideologized cold war approaches, to respect the sovereignty, security and interests of other countries, the diversity of their civilizational, cultural and historical backgrounds, and to exercise a fair and objective attitude towards the peaceful development of other States.”

The Washington Post reported that Xi said China and Russia “firmly support each other in safeguarding their core interests,” per a summary of the gathering by China’s state news agency Xinhua.

“Adding deeds to the words, Putin announced a deal to supply China with more gas via a new pipeline,” the Post added.

The Wall Street Journal reported that China didn’t put out the joint statement right away, but Chinese state media showed comments by Xi after the two met. Xi reportedly “said that the two countries support the safeguarding of each other’s core interests and that their strategic decisions would have global influence, according to a separate statement by the official Xinhua News Agency. Xinhua referenced the joint statement but made no mention of NATO,” the Journal noted.

“I am willing to work with President Vladimir Putin to plan a blueprint and guide the direction of Sino-Russian relations under new historical conditions,” Xi said.

In December, the Biden administration announced a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Games, but American athletes are still participating. 

“The Biden administration will not send any diplomatic or official representation to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games, given the PRC’s ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at the time, per The Daily Wire.

On Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi received widespread criticism after she told U.S. athletes not to speak out against the Chinese government at the Games. 

“I would say to our athletes — you are there to compete,” Pelosi said in part in testimony before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China. “Do not risk incurring the anger of the Chinese government because they are ruthless. I know there is a temptation on the part of some to speak out while they are there, I respect that. But, I also worry about what the Chinese government might do to their reputations, to their families.”

On Friday, she reiterated her remarks, saying in part, “As I say, as I wish the athletes well, I do not encourage them to speak out against the Chinese government there because I fear for their safety if they do.”  

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