By Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber and Andrew Osborn | Reuters
MOSCOW, Russia, 22 March 2021
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov began a visit to China on Monday with a call for Moscow and Beijing to reduce their dependence on the US dollar and Western payment systems to push back against what he called the West’s ideological agenda.
Lavrov, on a two-day visit to China, is expected to hold talks with his Chinese counterpart at a time when both countries’ ties with the administration of US President Joe Biden are badly strained.
US and Chinese officials on Friday concluded what Washington called “tough and direct” talks in Alaska, while Russia’s ambassador arrived back in Moscow on Sunday for consultations after Biden said he believed President Vladimir Putin was a killer.
Russia is also braced for a new round of US sanctions over what Washington says was its meddling in the 2020 US presidential election, which Moscow denies.
Speaking to Chinese media before the start of his visit, Lavrov said Moscow and Beijing were compelled to develop independently of Washington in order to thwart what he said were US attempts to curb their technological development.
“We need to reduce sanctions risks by bolstering our technological independence, by switching to payments in our national currencies and global currencies that serve as an alternative to the dollar,” Lavrov said, according to a transcript of his interview released on Monday.
“We need to move away from using international payment systems controlled by the West.”
Ahead of his visit, a Chinese state newspaper, The Global Times, suggested Lavrov’s trip was a sign of how close China-Russia coordination would offset the impact of what it called “US troublemaking.”
“The timing of Lavrov’s visit is noteworthy as it means Russia is the first country China shares information and opinions with on key issues after the China-US face-to-face communication,” it said.