Xi’s visit warmly welcomed by Russia, ‘brings hope of peace for Ukraine crisis’
Published: Mar 20, 2023 10:09 PM
Russian youths, Chinese students, employees of Chinese enterprises and overseas Chinese enthusiastically wave the national flags of China and Russia near the hotel where Chinese leaders were staying on March 21, 2023 in Moscow. People cheered as they chanted Warm welcome. Photo: Xinhua

Russian youths, Chinese students, employees of Chinese enterprises and overseas Chinese enthusiastically wave the national flags of China and Russia to welcome Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Russia on March 20, 2023 in Moscow. People cheered as they chanted "Warm welcome." Photo: Xinhua

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Moscow on Monday to kick off his three-day state visit, with the warm hospitality of the Russian side expressed through the high-standard welcoming ceremony arranged for the Chinese president upon his arrival. Experts from both China and Russia said the visit will be symbolic and have global significance, as it will not only greatly promote the development of bilateral ties, but also bring hope and confidence for a peaceful solution to the Ukraine crisis. 

Upon his arrival, Xi said in a written statement at Moscow's Vnukovo airport, "It gives me great pleasure to once again set foot on the soil of Russia, our friendly neighbor, and pay a state visit to the Russian Federation at the invitation of President Vladimir Putin."

The growth of China-Russia relations has not only brought tangible benefits to the people of our two countries, but also made important contributions to the development and progress of the world, Xi said.

Later, on the same day of his arrival, Xi met Putin in Moscow. 

The comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination between the two countries has safeguarded the international fairness and justice on the one hand, and promoted common prosperity and development of the two countries on the other, Xi said when he met Putin.

In interviews conducted on the streets of Moscow a day before Xi's arrival, the Global Times reporter learned from many Russian people that they consider China to be Russia's "good friend and good neighbor," and are paying great attention to the Chinese president's visit, and will watch related news to see what new agreements will be reached by the two sides.  

Open new chapter of ties

Before Xi's arrival on the same day, the major media of the two countries published the signed articles of Xi and Putin, with analysts saying that this is very unusual and shows that the top leaders of the two countries attach great importance to the comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era, and the two sides share high-level mutual trust, common ground and shared concerns.

According to the Xinhua News Agency, a signed article by President Xi titled "Forging Ahead to Open a New Chapter of China-Russia Friendship, Cooperation and Common Development" was published Monday in Russian newspaper Russian Gazette and the website of RIA Novosti news agency ahead of his state visit to Russia.

On the same day, Putin's article titled "Russia and China: A Future-Bound Partnership" was also published in the People's Daily, the flagship newspaper of the Communist Party of China. 

Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations at the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times that "normally, only the visiting leader will publish the signed article in a major media outlet of the country that he or she is going to visit, but this time, with Russia as the country receiving the state visit by the Chinese leader, the Russian president also published a signed article in a major Chinese media outlet. This proves that China-Russia ties are special and extremely close, and the two sides are paying the greatest attention to the coming meeting between the two top leaders."

The articles written by the two leaders comprehensively covered all important issues of China-Russia cooperation, including economy, trade, diplomacy, energy, aerospace industry, science and technology, as well as sports and culture, and both articles also addressed the Ukraine crisis. 

Alexander Lukin, director of the Center for East Asian and SCO Studies at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, told the Global Times that "in the current situation when many in the West try to press China into taking a hostile approach to Russia, this visit will play a symbolic role. It will demonstrate that China does not yield to anybody's pressure and that the Russian-Chinese strategic partnership is as strong as ever."

Chinese analysts said the Ukraine crisis started in 2022 has changed many things, especially the relations between Russia and the West. This makes Moscow attach great importance to developing ties with non-Western countries, and while Russia is sanctioned and blocked by the West, it's becoming more open to the countries that refuse to follow Western anti-Russia policy. Based on this, China-Russia cooperation will see more potential and opportunities in the future. 

Xi said in his signed article that "As we (China and Russia) focus on our respective cause of development and rejuvenation, we should get creative in our thinking, create new opportunities and inject new impetus. It is important that we increase mutual trust and bring out the potential of bilateral cooperation to keep China-Russia relations at a high level."

Putin said in his article that "today, the Russia-China relations serve as the cornerstone of regional and global stability, driving the economic growth and securing the positive agenda in international affairs. They provide an example of harmonious and constructive cooperation between major powers."

Hope for peace

The Ukraine crisis is a key hot issue that not only concerns China and Russia, but is also a topic that matters to the whole world. Xi said in his article that his trip to Russia "will be a journey of friendship, cooperation and peace." Experts said this is a clear signal to the world that Xi's trip is not only eyeing bilateral ties, but will also try to bring hope for a peaceful solution of the complicated ongoing crisis. 

Since China released its position on the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis, the US has openly and repeatedly opposed a ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine, which China and many members of the international community are trying to mediate. 

John Kirby, the spokesman for US President Joe Biden's National Security Council, said the proposed ceasefire by China is "tantamount to 'ratification of Russian conquest,' allowing Russian troops to remain in place, occupying parts of a sovereign country."  

However, even Ukraine, which is directly fighting with Russia, shows a difference of opinion with Washington. In a phone call with Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang on Thursday, a few days ahead of Xi's visit, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that China's position paper shows its sincerity in promoting a ceasefire and an end to the conflict. He expressed the hope to maintain communication with China. 

The point made by Kirby is nonsense and hypocritical, said Li. "The ceasefire aims to stop the bloodshed and end the pain for both Ukrainian and Russian people, as well as end the fear that is shadowing the continent of Europe. No one will expect the ceasefire to end every problem immediately, but it's the precondition for Moscow and Kiev to solve their problems by talks, not combat. What is the US actually opposing and why?"

In China's released position on the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis, "Respecting the sovereignty of all countries" is the first point highlighted in the document, so the US misinterpretation of China's mediation efforts is truly vicious and groundless, said experts.

Li said, "The US' opposition to a ceasefire and China's call for one presents the most obvious difference between the selfish and vicious intention of the US that only reflects the interest of the force that benefits from the deadly conflict and the common wish for hope shared by the vast majority of the international community."

China has confidence in helping the conflicting parties realize a ceasefire and restart peace talks, as China was recently successful in mediating between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which were previously extremely hostile against each other, for agreeing to reestablish diplomatic ties, so China believes that nothing is impossible if all relevant parties are willing to talk rather than fight, experts noted. 

If there is a country able to play a role in mediating the Ukraine crisis, it has to be a country with a true neutral stance and a position of justice, and the US has already lost this position, so in the next stage, China will keep making efforts for mediation, and during Xi's visit to Russia, the world will hold high expectations of what progress China will make with Russia, analysts noted.