China and Russia have been working hard to tighten their relationship this month. Mr. Lavrov, the foreign minister of Russia, met President Xi Jinping on April 15 to discuss China-Russia bilateral co-operation and the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. During his visit, Lavrov held meetings with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi as well as President Xi Jinping. According to a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Lavrov’s visit was primarily designed to “lay the groundwork” for president Vladimir Putin’s scheduled visit to China in May. In addition to paying an official state visit, Putin will also attend the quadrennial Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) Summit, which will be held in Shanghai. In terms of moving the relationship forward, Xi called for “enhanced political mutual support” between China and Russia. Lavrov responded that China and Russia’s “bilateral strategic partnership of coordination has global influence.” Xi and Lavrov’s words hint that this give-and-take relationship is significant to both countries, as it keeps either country from being isolated in the face of opposition from the West.

Additionally, Russia and China have blocked a proposal by the United States and France to impose U.N. sanctions on Central African Republic’s former President Francois Bozize and two other people linked to the conflict there. That proposal says Bozize has been financing and supporting militiamen attempting to destabilize the situation in the Central African Republic and bring him back to power. It also asserts Bozize encouraged a December 5 attack on Bangui by anti-balaka forces that led to increasing violence, claiming over 700 lives. The sanctioning of Bozize, who was ousted by predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels in March 2013, and two other individuals was to have taken effect on Tuesday, but first Russia, and then China raised last-minute objections, diplomats said. A Western diplomat, however, said he was optimistic that Russia and China would ultimately be persuaded to back the designations as they have in the cases of Iran and North Korea.

(The Diplomat, BBC, April 16; Reuters, Chicago Tribune, April 23)