China, Russia are ‘stabilizers for challenging world’, Xi-Putin meeting to address critical issues, may ink new deals: experts
Published: Feb 03, 2022 01:32 PM Updated: Feb 03, 2022 01:37 PM
File photo:Xinhua

File photo:Xinhua

A day ahead of the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin told Chinese media that the meeting of the heads of state plays a crucial role in the close cooperation between Moscow and Beijing on the basis of mutual political trust. President Putin noted the two nations will play a pivotal role to safeguard stability in today's challenging world. 

Putin, at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping, will visit Beijing on February 4 and will be present at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games the same day, and the two leaders will hold in-depth talks covering a wide range of bilateral and international issues. 

Putin is the first foreign head of state who confirmed his presence at the 2022 Games last year. Chinese experts consider him as the most important guest to the event, given there's no limit for China-Russia friendship, and two leaders will discuss how to build up the two countries' strong partnership, and respond to a series of "unharmonious" challenges, like the Ukraine situation.

Putin said in a written reply to the Xinhua News Agency that the two leaders will discuss international topics, as foreign policy coordination between the two countries is based on close and coinciding approaches to solving global and regional issues. "Our countries play an important stabilizing role in today's challenging international environment, promoting greater democracy in the system of international relations to make it more equitable and inclusive," he wrote. 

Amid escalating global tensions which have directly affected China and Russia, the two countries have seen fruitful cooperation in various domains including bilateral trade, expansion of settlements in national currencies to offset the impact of the US' unilateral sanctions, energy, information technologies, as well as space exploration and vaccine cooperation. Also, the two countries are actively cooperating on a number of multilateral frameworks including BRICS, the Russia-India-China framework, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and G20, all of which serve as stabilizers for the challenging global situation. 

Not only do China and Russia share high-level strategic partnerships and mutual trust, the top leaders of the two countries also share a close personal relationship. Since 2013, President Xi and President Putin have met each other about 30 times on various occasions, which is rare in global diplomacy. Besides the official meetings, the two also shared some close moments like enjoying vodka, caviar and Russian ice cream and celebrating each other's birthdays.

President Putin praised President Xi in an earlier media interview, saying the Chinese President is a world-class politician with rich knowledge and is always well prepared for any event. 

Putin, sending out the message before his arrival in Beijing, shows that Russia attaches great importance to its relations with China, which fully underscores that there's no limit to further development of their strategic partnership in the future, Yang Jin, an associate research fellow at the Institute of Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Thursday. 

"Amid the pandemic and the US-led so-called 'diplomatic boycott', Putin's visit displays Russia's full support for Beijing holding the Games, and, for the Olympic Spirit," Yang said. 

Putin said that it is symbolic that his meeting with President Xi will take place during the Spring Festival -- the Chinese Lunar New Year. "After all, as the Chinese saying goes, 'The whole year's work depends on a good start in spring'," Putin said. 

Some Chinese experts believed that the two leaders may sign a joint statement including Russia's strong support for the Winter Olympics, and strong coordination between China and Russia to tackle international challenges -- whatever they are.

"The two leaders are likely to discuss global issues of common concern such as the NATO's eastward expansion, the Iranian nuclear issue, global climate change and stability in the Korean Peninsula," Yang said. 

As the pandemic continues to rage around the world, the tensions over Ukraine have yet to be eased. The US President Biden ordered 2,000 US-based troops to Poland and Germany and shifted 1,000 more from Germany to Romania, the AP reported on Wednesday. 

China and Russia will discuss from "the pragmatic perspective" on how to respond to a series of "unharmonious" events, and tackle issues like the Ukraine situation, where Russia is facing intensifying pressure from the US-led NATO, Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Thursday. 

"As global observers are concerned about the elusive situation in Ukraine, President Putin is expected to discuss with President Xi Russia's position on the important issue, as well as on how to advance the development of global governance," Li said.

In addition to geopolitical issues, Russia and China will likely talk about concrete deals, Reuters reported on Thursday, citing Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov, including a discussion on closer gas and financial ties between the two countries. Ushakov said the possibility of Russia building a new gas pipeline to China through Mongolia was being looked at, a project that has been discussed for a long time and would take years to realize.

In the written article published by Xinhua, Putin said a mutually beneficial energy partnership is being formed between the two countries. Along with long-term oil and gas supplies to China, Russia has plans to implement a number of large-scale joint projects, and the construction of four new power units at Chinese nuclear power plants with the participation of Rosatom State Corporation. 

"All this significantly strengthens the energy security of China and the Asia region as a whole," Putin wrote. 

There's greater cooperation potential between China and Russia in advancing their trade and economies. The close energy partnership and the planned development of Siberia and Russian Far East, tell that Russia has consciously aligned its economic and social development plans and major development projects with China, reflecting an even-stronger and mutually beneficial economic partnership, Li said.

The two countries have strong demand to enhance cooperation in energy, finance, agriculture and infrastructure in the post-COVID-19 era, Yang said, adding that the upcoming talks between the two presidents will likely ink more practical cooperation projects, and may cover extensive advancement of the Belt and Road initiative.

While Beijing is set to hold the grand opening ceremony of the Games, the whole world awaits the moment when Beijing becomes the first city in the world to hold both summer and winter Olympics. Putin said he is convinced that China's extensive experience and its excellent organization of representative international competitions will make it possible to hold this global festival of sports at the highest level. 

However, the US is leading some of its close allies to "diplomatically boycott" the Games. Such attempts won't succeed, Putin said, as it is fundamentally wrong and contrary to the very spirit and principles of the Olympic Charter.