|Chinese President Xi Jinping meets Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin on March 20, 2023. (Photo: China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Xi’s visit aims to further strengthen mutual trust and understanding between China and Russia and to discuss global issues.
Xi’s visit reaffirms the special nature of the Russia-China partnership, which is built on trust and respect for each other's sovereignty and interests. Putin said that it has been a decade since Xi’s first visit to Russia as President of China in 2013. The world has seen various changes, but Russia and China have maintained a close friendship. Russia-China relations have reached their highest level in history and are growing stronger.
The two leaders have built a special personal friendliness and trust. Putin and Xi have met about 40 times. The meetings were always productive and useful for bilateral relations, said aide to the the Russian President Yuri Ushakov.
An important element of Russia-China relations is trade and economic cooperation. Since 2010 China has been Russia’s largest trading partner. Last year trade turnover between Russia and China reached a record 185 billion USD, very close to the goal of 200 billion USD by 2024. In the first 2 months of this year the two countries maintained rapid trade growth with a bilateral turnover of nearly 33.7 billion USD, up 26% from the same period last year.
Energy cooperation, one of the main elements of Russia-China trade cooperation, reached a milestone last year when Russia ranked second in oil supplies to China and fourth in liquefied natural gas (LNG). Last year Russia's gas supply to China via the "Power of Siberia" gas pipeline increased 1.5 fold to a record high of 15.5 billion cubic meters.
Moscow and Beijing also cooperate in the nuclear sector. Four units of the Tianwan Nuclear Power Plant and one CEFR fast neutron nuclear reactor are under construction in China with Russian help.
A high level of trust has contributed to military cooperation. Last November Chinese and Russian military aircraft conducted cross-boder flights, and they conducted a 2nd joint patrol in the Pacific Ocean last year.
Russia and China have a similar approach to fundamental problems of the modern world order and important international issues. They are active actors at multilateral platforms like the UN, the G20, BRICS, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).
China wants to mediate negotiations to end the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Last month Beijing released a peace plan that emphasizes respect for national sovereignty and abstention from using nuclear weapons. Moscow welcomed the initiative.
New vision for Russia-China relations
President Xi said his visit to Russia is a journey of friendship, cooperation, and peace. He wants to work with Putin to map out a new vision, a new blueprint, and new measures for the future development of the future China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership.
The two sides will sign 10 cooperation documents, including a joint statement on deepening their comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation in the new era and a joint statement on developing important economic cooperation areas by 2030.
On the eve of Xi’s visit, President Putin wrote an article for the People's Daily newspaper titled "Russia and China: A Future-Bound Partnership". Putin admitted he has high expectations for these talks, giving strong new impetus to bilateral cooperation.
The aide to the Russian President said that all the main cooperation topics will be discussed at bilateral meetings. The joint statement on developing major economic cooperation areas will create new impetus for trade and economic relations. Chinese Ambassador to Russia Zhang Han-hui said China-Russia economic and trade cooperation will continue to advance.
President Xi’s visit to Russia so soon after his re-election demonstrates China's special respect for Russia. The visit reinforces the view that the development of Russia-China relations has a high priority in each country’s foreign policy.