Author: RT Staff Reporters
Publish date: 2023-05-24 17:21:58
Chinese President Xi Jinping said China will support Russia’s “fundamental interests” during a meeting in Beijing with Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin.
The two countries have strengthened their diplomatic and trade relations over the past decade, which has accelerated since Russia launched its offensive against the former Soviet republic.
China has declared itself neutral in the conflict and called for respect for state sovereignty but has never publicly condemned the military operation ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin that began in February 2022.
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin arrived in China on Monday and attended an economic forum in Shanghai on Tuesday, 23, before traveling to Beijing to meet with his counterpart Li Qiang and President Xi Jinping.
He is the top Russian official to visit China since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began.
China wants the two countries to continue “firmly supporting each other on issues affecting each other’s core interests,” President Xi Jinping told Mishustin, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
This kind of rather vague phrase is often used in bilateral meetings with representatives of Russia and other countries and is usually a reference – as far as China is concerned – to the Taiwan island issue.
Xi Jinping also called for “strengthening coordination in multilateral settings, such as the United Nations, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Brics or the G20,” according to Xinhua.
Before meeting with Xi, Mishustin held talks with Chinese Premier Li Qiang and stressed that “relations between Russia and China have reached an unprecedented level.”
“Mutual respect’s interests characterize them, the desire to respond together to challenges related to greater turbulence on the international scene and the pressure of illegitimate sanctions by the West as a whole,” the Russian premier said after a welcoming ceremony in front of the monumental Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
China is Russia’s first trading partner. According to Chinese Customs, transactions between the two countries reached US$190 billion in 2022.
On Tuesday, 23, Li Qiang pointed out that in the first four months of this year, the value of transactions already stood at US$70 billion, representing an annual growth of more than 40%.
Mikhail Mishustin was accompanied by several Russian officials, such as Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak, in charge of the Energy portfolio.
China became Russia’s first energy customer last year and prevented the collapse of Russian gas exports despite Western sanctions imposed on Moscow over the war in Ukraine.
On Tuesday, 23, Alexander Novak stated at the Shanghai forum that energy supplies from Russia to China would increase by almost 40% by 2023, according to Russian news agencies.
Analysts believe that China, because of its economic and diplomatic weight, has an advantage in the bilateral relationship with Russia, an imbalance growing as the international community increasingly isolates the Moscow government.
For Ryan Hass, an analyst at the Brookings Institution, the leaders of Russia and China have become “closer because of grievances and concerns than [because they have] common goals.”
In February, the Chinese government issued a document calling for a “political solution” to the conflict in Ukraine, with respect for the territorial integrity of all countries.
A month later, during a summit in Moscow, Xi invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit Beijing.
*With information from AFP
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