China's defense minister on Sunday denied that his country's relationship with Russia is an alliance, defining it instead as a partnership, and said that Beijing has "never provided material support" to Moscow since it invaded Ukraine in February.

"The growth of the China-Russia relationship is a partnership, not an alliance. It does not target a third party," Wei Fenghe said during a speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue, the most important defense forum in Asia-Pacific.

Although firm in his friendship with Russia, Wei's words lower the tone used between the two countries shortly before the invasion of Ukraine. At the beginning of February, Russia's President Vladimir Putin and China's leader Xi Jinping signed in Beijing a statement that raised their relationship to the highest level in 70 years and assured it has "no limits."