Status: 03/20/2023 1:07 p.m
China’s head of state Xi Jinping has arrived in Russia for a three-day state visit. Both countries want to strengthen their economic relationship. The war in Ukraine is also said to play a role.
China’s head of state and government, Xi Jinping, is in Russia for the first time in four years. Upon his arrival at Moscow’s Vnukovo government airport, a red carpet was rolled out for the state guest in front of the machine.
After his arrival, Xi said he hoped the visit would give new impetus to relations between the two countries, according to the state-run Russian news agency Tass. China is ready to defend a world order based on international law alongside Russia. At the meeting, Xi and Putin want to herald a “new era” in bilateral relations, according to Russian sources.
“Ukraine on the agenda”
Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the meeting “very important” and announced it would start at around 4:30 p.m. Moscow time (2:30 p.m. CET). An official welcoming ceremony, a two-way talk, a conversation in the presence of Russian and Chinese delegations and a joint dinner are planned, he said, according to the Interfax agency.
“Of course Ukraine will be on the agenda,” Peskov added. “Of course, President Putin will provide detailed explanations so that Xi can get the current view of the Russian side firsthand.” The “issues raised in Beijing’s plan for Ukraine” would “be addressed in one way or another” during the negotiations, Peskov said.
tailwind for Putin
The visit gives Russian President Vladimir Putin a boost after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant against Putin on charges of war crimes. China had called for prudent action in this regard. The ICC must “take an objective and fair position” and respect the immunity of heads of state under international law, said a spokesman for Beijing’s foreign ministry. For Putin, Xi’s visit to the Kremlin is a diplomatic triumph, allowing him to show Western leaders allied with Ukraine that their efforts to isolate him have failed.
China has not condemned Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, but has repeatedly spoken out against the use of nuclear weapons and presented a vague peace initiative in February calling for a ceasefire and talks, but so far has produced no tangible progress. China’s foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said before Xi’s visit, “China will maintain its objective and fair position on the Ukraine crisis and play a constructive role in promoting peace talks.”
Strengthen economic relationships
According to Peskow, talks on other topics should then take place on Tuesday. Economic cooperation between the two countries is likely to be on the agenda.
China presented the visit in advance as part of normal diplomatic exchanges, but did not go into detail. Spokesman Wang spoke of a “journey of friendship, cooperation and peace.” Xi wants to “promote strategic coordination and practical cooperation between the two countries and give new impetus to the development of bilateral relations.”
China is benefiting from ever-closer ties with Russia. Bilateral trade has increased by more than 30 percent in the last year – to 190 billion US dollars – also because of Western sanctions against Moscow. China is buying more cheap Russian oil and gas, Russia more smartphones, semiconductors and other goods from China. In addition, China wants to assert itself as world leader against the USA. For this, too, China needs Russia as an ally.