China said it supports Russia’s actions to maintain national stability, a day after Moscow defused the biggest threat to President Vladimir Putin’s rule.
The brief statement by a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, who described the weekend’s events as “Russia’s internal affair,” came after Foreign Minister Qin Gang met in Beijing with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko.
It expanded on an earlier comment from Beijing that the pair had exchanged views on international and regional issues of common interest.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu also met Rudenko on Sunday, vowing to defend the countries’ common interests in the face of a “complex and grim” international environment.
Mutual political trust between Beijing and Moscow has been growing under Putin and President Xi Jinping, China’s foreign ministry cited Ma as saying in another statement.
In a TV broadcast to the nation on Saturday, Putin spoke of “treason” as militia members loyal to Wagner Group head Yevgeny Prigozhin made their way north toward Moscow. As part of a deal to end the uprising late on Sunday, the Russian president guaranteed that Prigozhin would be allowed to leave for Belarus and authorities would drop criminal mutiny charges against him and his fighters, according to the Kremlin.
“The Chinese side expressed support for the efforts of the Russian leadership to stabilize the situation in the country in connection with the events of June 24 and reaffirmed its interest in strengthening the cohesion and further prosperity of Russia,” Russian’s foreign ministry said in a statement on its website.
The ministry said Rudenko was on a working trip and that the consultations had been planned.
The weekend’s events in Russia were covered by Chinese state media, with People’s Daily and China Central Television running stories. Global Times published an article by former editor-in-chief Hu Xijin analyzing what scenarios the uprising could lead to, including regime change. Xi has a tight relationship with Putin and visited him in Moscow in March.
The official Xinhua News Agency said in a Chinese-language article that Russian “representatives from all parts of the nation, dignitaries and religious leaders strongly condemned the incident, and clearly stated that they stood on the side of the Russian federal government, stability and peace.”
The subject was also a hot topic on China’s social media, with users sharing screen-shots of Twitter discussions. Some compared Prigozhin’s moves to the An Lushan Rebellion which began in 755 AD, when a disgruntled general and favorite of the emperor used his troops to capture the eastern capital and proclaim himself emperor. While the rebellion ultimately failed, it led to a weakening of the Tang Dynasty.
A Weibo account operated by a part of the People’s Liberation Army published a post by China National Radio about how Mao Zedong revamped the army in 1927 — an event that ensured the party retained absolute leadership over the army.
—With assistance from Jing Li and Xiao Zibang.
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