By James Griffiths, CNN–
The US should take notice of China and Russia’s increasingly close military ties, a top Chinese official said Tuesday.
General Wei Fenghe, China’s new defense minister, gave the remarks in Moscow following a meeting with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, according to Russian state news agency TASS.
“I am visiting Russia as a new defense minister of China to show the world a high level of development of our bilateral relations and firm determination of our armed forces to strengthen strategic cooperation,” Wei said.
“The Chinese side has come (to Moscow) to show Americans the close ties between the armed forces of China and Russia … we’ve come to support you.”
Wei added that Beijing is ready to express with Moscow “our common concerns and common position on important international problems at international venues as well.”
The unusually candid remarks come amid ongoing closeness between Moscow and Beijing, with Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin promising in November to enhance bilateral ties and cooperation on international affairs.
Putin is due to visit China later this year, for his first meetings with senior Chinese officials since being elected for a fourth term.
At a UN meeting in September, the foreign ministers of both countries criticized Washington for its aggressive stance in global affairs, and said there was an ongoing transition to a “multipolar world” without a single superpower.
While the Sino-Russian relationship has been rocky in the past, Beijing upped its support for Moscow in the wake of intense Western sanctions following the Russian annexation of Crimea.
Both countries have long supported each other at the United Nations on issues such as North Korea and Syria, where they are in opposition to or disagreement with the US.
Reforming China’s military has been a key goal of Xi’s, who recently called for the People’s Liberation Army to be strengthened “with science and technology and rule-based governance.”
Moscow too, has sought to build up its fighting power. In early March, Russia tested a new missile Putin claimed would render NATO defenses “completely useless.”