BEIJING, Dec 10, 1999 -- (Reuters) Russia and China ended a strategically-timed summit here Friday by signing a joint communiqué rejecting the West's use of human rights to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries.
"Both sides are against the use of placing human rights higher than state sovereignty and using human rights to interfere or to harm an independent country's sovereignty," said the joint communiqué released to reporters at the Sino-Russian summit in Beijing.
The joint declaration is aimed at countering growing criticism from Western countries against Russia's military offensive in the rebel republic of Chechnya.
US President Bill Clinton has warned Russia it will pay a high price for the way it is waging war in Chechnya, in particular its disregard for civilian lives.
The joint declaration, signed during an informal two-day summit between Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Chinese President Jiang Zemin, also allies Russia with China on issues concerning Taiwan, which China considers a renegade province that must eventually be reunited with the mainland.
Moscow and Beijing on Friday said they supported the safeguarding of territorial integrity, unification of Taiwan with China and the Russian "efforts" in Chechnya.
The communiqué said China stresses that the Chechen issue is purely an internal affair of the Russian republic.
"The Chinese side supports the government of the Russian republic's action in fighting terrorism and splittism forces," the communiqué said.
Both countries called for a multi-polar world and for the United Nations to play a leading role in maintaining world peace.
"Members of the international community must respect sovereignty and non-interference in others internal affairs," they said.
Beijing and Moscow also reiterated in the communiqué their opposition to Washington's desire for an anti-ballistic missile defense system to protect the United States and a theatre missile defense system to protect countries in East Asia.
Taiwan wants to be included in the Asian shield in Asia, which China strongly opposes.
The communiqué said Russia and China are strongly against US efforts to change the 1972 anti-ballistic missile (AMB) treaty, which curbs the proliferation of missiles and missile defense systems.
"The 1972 ABM treaty must be completely and strictly respected. The Russian side supports the Chinese side in opposing the position of any country under any form of bringing the Chinese province of Taiwan into a (anti-missile defense) plan," the communiqué said.
It said plans to build a theatre missile defense system would threaten peace and stability in the region.
Yeltsin on Thursday gave his strongest reaction so far against US opposition to the Russian offensive in Chechnya.
He warned Clinton his country still had nuclear weapons and would not bow to US pressure over Chechen matters.
"Yesterday, Clinton took the liberty of putting pressure on Russia. It seems he has forgotten for a few seconds, a minute or half a minute what Russia represents, and that Russia has at its disposal a full nuclear arsenal," Yeltsin said after his first meeting with Jiang.
"It's never been the case, and it will never be the case, that he (Clinton) can dictate how the whole world should live, work, and play. No, and once again, no. A multi-polar world, that's the basis of everything.
Clinton played down Yeltsin's remarks and reiterated his stance that displacing hundreds of thousands of civilians will not help Moscow achieve its goal of stopping attacks by Chechen terrorists.
Yeltsin who was due to leave Beijing for Moscow around midday Friday, was recently hospitalized with pneumonia, but insisted on coming to China against the advice of his doctors.
The timing of his visit and the joint communiqué is significant as Russia is facing growing pressure from the US and Europe against its military onslaught in Chechnya and its planned attack on the Chechen capital Grozny.
China is also alarmed by Taiwanese president Lee Teng-hui's efforts this year to assert state-to-state relations between China and Taiwan.
[URL may be different next day if article is archived]