Chinese leader Xi Jinping declined the invitation of Russian president Vladimir Putin to visit Russia, reported the Japanese newspaper Yeimuri Shimbun.
Putin invited Xi Jinping to visit Russia during a private conversation that took place on June 15.
The head of the Chinese Communist Party refused, explaining that in the near future "it will be difficult to do this" allegedly because of coronavirus restrictions.
At the same time, Japanese journalists believe that in fact the reason was that Xi's visit to Russia could lead to "a further deepening of China's differences with the United States and Europe."
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied this, arguing that Chine’s President did not reject the invitation and it is still in force.
"When all the Covid restrictions are eased, of course, visits will take place,” said Peskov.
Xi and Putin last met at the opening of the Beijing Olympics in early February 2022 before Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
China currently takes a neutral position on the war in Ukraine.