*With agency

China’s top lawmaker, Li Zhanshu, will visit Russia next week, making him the highest-ranking Chinese official to visit the country since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, according to Chinese state media reports.

Li, who ranks third in the Chinese government hierarchy, will make an official visit to Russia, Mongolia, Nepal and South Korea from Wednesday to Sept. 17, according to the state-run Xinhua News Agency.

Li, chairman of the standing committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), will also attend the 7th Eastern Economic Forum during his stay in Russia, according to Xinhua News Agency.

Beijing and Moscow have strengthened and closer cooperation in recent years as part of what they call a “no limits” relationship.

Meanwhile, Beijing’s refusal to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has increased tensions between China and the West.

Li, 72, will likely retire from his role in the Chinese Communist Party (CPC) next month at the landmark 20th Congress of the Communist Party of China.

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