MOSCOW -- China's top diplomat on Monday began several days of security consultations with Russian officials following his weekend talks with U.S. President Joe Biden's national security adviser in Malta.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who simultaneously holds the ruling Communist Party's top foreign policy post, will be in Russia through Thursday for strategic security consultations, the Foreign Ministry said in a brief statement.
Wang opened his talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov by hailing "strategic cooperation" between the two countries and their shared commitment to a "multipolar world" and a "more just world order," terms Moscow and Beijing use to describe their efforts to counterbalance the perceived U.S. domination of global affairs.
"China and Russia, as leading global powers and permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, bear special responsibility for maintaining global strategic stability and global development," Wang said. "The more violent the unilateral actions of hegemony and bloc confrontation become, the more important for us to keep up with the times, show a sense of duty as great powers, and further fulfill our international obligations."
He stressed that Russia-China cooperation "isn't directed against anyone and isn't influenced by any other countries."
Lavrov emphasized "the importance of Russian-Chinese cooperation for ensuring justice in world affairs, for ensuring a balance of interests in the processes that are developing in a variety of directions." He noted that Russia and China will coordinate their efforts during this week's U.N. General Assembly and other international forums.
The U.S. and China are at odds over Russia's military action in Ukraine. China has refrained from taking sides in the conflict, saying that while a country's territory must be respected, the West needs to consider Russia's security concerns about NATO expansion. It has accused the U.S. of prolonging the fighting by providing arms to Ukraine, weaponry that the U.S. says Kyiv needs to fight back against Russia.
Wang's trip to Moscow came a day after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un left Russia following a six-day visit that included talks with President Vladimir Putin at a far eastern spaceport, visits to aircraft plants and inspections of nuclear-capable strategic bombers and an advanced warship. Kim's trip fueled Western concerns about an arms alliance that could boost Russian arsenals for fighting in Ukraine.
China and Russia have grown closer as relations with the West have deteriorated for both. China is looking for support as it seeks to reshape the U.S.-led international order into one that is more accommodating to its approach. Last month, it helped engineer an expansion of the BRICS partnership, which invited six more countries to join what has been a five-nation bloc that includes China and Russia.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning called Wang's visit to Russia a routine one to hold in-depth talks on major strategic security interests.
Wang stepped down as foreign minister at the end of last year, taking on the more senior position of Communist Party foreign affairs chief, but was called back to the post in July after his successor, Qin Gang, disappeared from public view. It's unclear what happened to Qin, but he may have fallen out of favor with the leadership.
More recently, China's defense minister, Li Shangfu, also has not been seen in about three weeks, sparking speculation about his fate. It's unusual for two sitting Cabinet members to disappear from sight, although it doesn't appear to signal any obvious change in defense or foreign policy.
The Chinese government has said nothing about Li's disappearance. Asked about it on Monday, Mao, the Foreign Ministry spokesperson, said she was not aware of the situation.