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China’s Xi calls for stronger ‘strategic coordination’ with Russia in Lunar New Year call with Putin

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Hong Kong CNN —

Chinese leader Xi Jinping heralded a new year of growing coordination with Russia during a call with counterpart Vladimir Putin on Thursday that comes as the two countries continue to cement their partnership amid frictions with the West.

Xi told Putin the two sides should “strengthen strategic coordination” and “safeguard the national sovereignty, security and development interests of their respective countries,” according to a readout from China’s Foreign Ministry.

They should also “resolutely oppose external interference in their internal affairs,” Xi said, in an apparent reference to the two leaders’ shared suspicions about the activities of Western governments.

The call, which comes ahead of China’s Lunar New Year on Saturday, is the latest robust exchange between the two leaders, who are seen to have a warm personal relationship and share an aim of pushing back against what they see as a world unfairly dominated by the United States.

Their strengthening relationship in recent years has been closely watched by Western governments, in particular amid concerns that China could support Putin’s grinding war in Ukraine.

China claims impartiality in that conflict but has refused to condemn the illegal invasion and acted as an increasingly critical lifeline for the sanctions-hit Russian economy.

“We have withstood many trials and tribulations together (in the past). Looking to the future, China-Russia relations face new development opportunities,” Xi told Putin during their call.

The leaders also had a “detailed exchange” on the situation in