19:43 GMT12 June 2021
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    Making joint efforts to fight the COVID-19 global pandemic, countering the smear campaign by the US and the West, and preparing for possible higher-level talks may top the agenda during the visit of China's leading diplomat to Russia this week.

    Experts said that the increasingly close China-Russia ties are driven by external pressure from the West and internal needs, and the US' tactics to offer "carrots" to Russia as well as sowing discord between China and Russia will not succeed. 

    Yang Jiechi, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee, will meet with Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of Russia's Security Council in Russia on Tuesday to hold the 16th round of China-Russia strategic security consultations.

    "As COVID-19 still poses a threat, top officials from China and Russia will talk about making joint efforts to fight the virus; another important topic might be how to deal with oppression from the West and the current smear campaign against China and Russia," Cui Heng, a post-doctoral researcher from the Centre for Russian Studies of East China Normal University, told the Global Times. 

    During the foreign ministers' meeting in London earlier this month, the Group of Seven, formed by the West's richest nations, scolded Russia as malicious and called Beijing a "bully," and said China, Russia, and COVID-19 are the biggest threats. 

    Yang's visit to Russia comes after Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin witnessed the groundbreaking key cooperative nuclear energy projects last week and expressed strong support to each other. Putin also hailed relations between the two countries as having "reached their highest level in history."

    It seems that the West and new emerging economies represented by China and Russia have entered a stalemate, while the close bond and back-to-back strategic cooperation between China and Russia help them resist attacks from the West, according to Cui. 

    "However, pressure and hostility from the West and the US is the external environment that pushes China and Russia to get closer, and China and Russia come closer out of internal needs on not only economic cooperation but to follow their own paths of development," he noted. 

    Trade between China and Russia exceeded $107.7 billion in 2020 and experts estimate this may rise to more than $130 billion this year, given the rising price of bulk commodities.

    Yang's visit also comes after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on 19 May on the sidelines of an Arctic Council meeting in Iceland, with US media speculating that their discussion focused on the mooted summit between Biden and Putin. 

    Biden understands the danger of having "wars on two fronts." He tries to unite the West by using anti-China and anti-Russia cards and sow distrust between Moscow and Beijing, Yuri Tavrovsky, head of the Expert Council of the Russian-Chinese Committee for Friendship, Peace and Development, told the Global Times.

    Tavrovsky said that "there will be more carrots offered to Moscow" by the Biden administration but the current moves of the US are "diplomatic tactics to win more time" to ambush China and Russia, which China and Russia are aware of.

    The Russian expert also said that Yang's visit to Russia is important to exchange ideas between China and Russia, and he hopes the visit could lead to the "announcement of the summit between Putin and Xi." 

    This article originally appeared in the Global Times. 

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