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China and Russia agreed to oppose all forms of “unilateral bullying” and “promote democracy in international relations” during a meeting of Beijing’s top diplomat and Vladimir Putin’s security chief in Moscow on Tuesday, China’s state-run news service Xinhua said.

The meeting between Wang Yi and Nikolai Patrushev came after the Chinese diplomat attended the Munich Security Conference at the weekend, during which Beijing revived efforts to portray itself as a potential peacemaker in the Ukraine war.

“The two sides . . . expressed their willingness to jointly practice true multilateralism, oppose all forms of unilateral bullying, and promote democracy in international relations and a multipolar world,” Xinhua said.

China’s claims of strict neutrality in the war have been met with deep scepticism in the west, which points to Beijing’s close trading relationship with Moscow and their declaration last year of a “no limits” friendship.

China has maintained its close relationship with Russia despite the Ukraine conflict, refusing to condemn the invasion and repeating many of Moscow’s claims about the war in its state-run media.

The meeting of Wang and Patrushev follows terse exchanges between the Chinese diplomat and US secretary of state Antony Blinken during the Munich conference.

The meeting between Wang and Blinken was the first face-to-face encounter between high-level Beijing and Washington officials since the US shot down a suspected spy balloon that floated over North America this month.

“Both parties believe that peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region should be firmly maintained and that the introduction of Cold War mentality, bloc confrontation and ideological conflict should be opposed,” Xinhua said of Wang’s meeting with Patrushev.

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