Xi to visit Russia in a trip of ‘friendship, cooperation and peace’

The visit will also be a signal to the international community that the China-Russia partnership is as strong as ever, the Russia expert told the Global Times.

President Xi Jinping will pay a state visit to Russia from Monday to Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying announced on Friday. President Xi’s upcoming visit to Russia, viewed as a trip of friendship, cooperation and peace, is expected to further promote China-Russia cooperation and contribute to global peace and development, analysts said.

At the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Xi will pay a state visit to Russia from March 20 to 22, according to the announcement.

During his upcoming visit to Russia, President Xi will have an in-depth exchange of views with President Putin on bilateral relations and major international and regional issues of mutual interest, boost strategic coordination and practical cooperation between the two countries and inject new impetus into the growth of bilateral relations, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at the regular press conference on Friday.

China and Russia will continue to practice true multilateralism, promote greater democracy in international relations, work toward building a multi-polar world, improve global governance and contribute to development and progress in the world, Wang.

The upcoming visit to Russia is of great significance, as it takes place after Xi was elected as president and chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) of China at the third plenary meeting of the first session of the 14th National People’s Congress (NPC) and this will also be his first overseas visit in 2023, analysts said.

While the world is undergoing drastic changes and the Ukraine crisis has continued for over a year, China has released a position paper on the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis and global security initiative concept paper. Xi’s visit of friendship, cooperation and peace will also show China’s efforts in promoting peace and talks, they noted.

Positive asset to world

Chinese Ambassador to Russia Zhang Hanhui told the Global Times that Xi’s state visit to Russia is a milestone for China-Russia relations in the new era. It will inject a strong impetus into bilateral relations and lead the sustained development of bilateral ties at a high level.

Andrey Kortunov, director general of the Russian International Affairs Council, expressed high expectations for Xi’s visit and said it will be very important for the Russian side. There is a broad range of issues that can be discussed during this trip, including economic relations, the emerging world order and regional crises.

The visit will also be a signal to the international community that the China-Russia partnership is as strong as ever, the Russia expert told the Global Times.

The top leaders of China and Russia have maintained close interactions. Russia was the destination of Xi’s first state visit after becoming president a decade ago. The upcoming visit is also a return visit following Putin’s visit to China in February 2022, Zhao Huirong, an Eastern European studies expert from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), told the Global Times on Friday.

Zhao noted that China and Russia will reach consensus on how to further promote the connectivity of the Belt and Road Initiative with the Eurasian Economic Union and boost cooperation in various fields, including on trade and investment, green economy, digital economy and logistics.

Under the current global situation, China-Russia relations have met with new opportunities, especially on common development and in the field of energy, analysts said.

Recently, the US and some Western countries have beefed up efforts to smear and demonize China-Russia relations and by spreading lies about China’s “support” for Russia in the conflict with Ukraine, the US and its allies want to trap Russia and China.

China and Russia have developed close relations based on the benefits of the two peoples and the ties have been built based on no-alliance, no-confrontation and no-targeting of any third party, which means outside noises will not impact their relations, Wang Chenxing, a research fellow on Russian studies from the CASS, told the Global Times.

When announcing Xi’s trip to Russia, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin said that Xi and Putin have maintained close exchanges in recent years, and charted the course and provided guidance for the sustained sound and steady growth of the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era.

The two sides have found a path of major-country relations featuring strategic trust, good neighborliness and cooperation, setting a new model for international relations, Wang said.

China and Russia are permanent members of the UN Security Council and major countries, and the significance and influence of the China-Russia relationship goes far beyond the bilateral scope, said the spokesperson.

Analysts said that the stable developments of China-Russia relations are also conducive to global peace, as the two countries have jointly defended multilateralism, especially when the US and its allies push confrontations globally, and China will continue to promote peace and talks on the Ukraine crisis.

Promoting peace and talks

Responding to a question on whether President Xi will further elaborate China’s position and proposal to Russia during the visit, and try to influence Russia for a political settlement of the Ukraine crisis, Wang Wenbin said that Xi’s visit to Russia is also about peace. Safeguarding world peace and promoting common development is our foreign policy goal. On the Ukraine issue, China always stands on the side of peace and dialogue and stands on the right side of history.

We always believe that political dialogue is the only way to resolve conflicts and disputes. Fanning the flames, fueling the fight, unilateral sanctions and maximum pressure will only fuel the tension and make matters worse, Wang Wenbin said.

China will uphold the objective and fair position on the Ukraine crisis and other international and regional hotspot issues, and continue to play a constructive role in the political settlement of the crisis, the spokesperson noted.

China has insisted that wars and sanctions are not the way to settle disputes while dialogue and communication are. It has called for the international community to reach the greatest common divisor on the Ukraine crisis to seek dialogue and avoid a greater humanitarian crisis – this is also what President Xi will emphasize when discussing the Ukraine crisis on his visit in Russia, said Zhao.

While maintaining communication with Russia and Ukraine, China can help seek possible dialogue and promote the protection of people’s livelihoods via cooperation, said Zhao, noting that since the outbreak of the conflict, China has taken tangible measures, including offering humanitarian aid to Ukraine, which highlights its sense of responsibility.

In February, China released a 12-point position paper called “China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis” and called for the cessation of hostilities and resumption of peace talks, ending unilateral sanctions and abandoning the Cold War mentality.

On Thursday, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang had a phone call with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, in which Qin expressed the hope that Ukraine and Russia will keep the hopes of dialogue and negotiation alive, and will not close the door to a political settlement, no matter how difficult or challenging it may be.

However, despite efforts from China and the international community in promoting peace and talks, the US and some Western countries continue to fan flames and pour weapons into the battlefield in Ukraine and to shift blame, even criticizing China for not joining their campaign to condemn or sanction Russia, analysts said.

It is ridiculous and shameless for the US and its allies to criticize China on the Ukraine crisis, as China is not a party directly involved nor is the initiator of the crisis, but it did not choose to be a bystander or add fuel to the fire, instead it strives to promote dialogue and peace, said Wang Chenxing from CASS.

The international community is keen to find a solution to stop the Russia-Ukraine conflict before it is too late, and this is why China’s call for peace and talks has earned support, analysts said.

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