China, Russia deepen Comprehensive Strategic Partnership of Coordination for the New Era, stress talks as solution to Ukraine crisis in joint statement
Published: Mar 22, 2023 01:27 AM
Chinese President Xi Jinping meets Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin in Moscow on March 21, 2023. The two leaders jointly met the press after their talks. Photo: AFP

Chinese President Xi Jinping meets Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin in Moscow on March 21, 2023. The two leaders jointly met the press after their talks. Photo: AFP

China-Russia relations go far beyond the bilateral scope and are crucial to the world and the future of mankind, Chinese President Xi Jinping made the remarks when jointly meeting the press with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, adding that China and Russia will work together to practice true multilateralism, promote post-pandemic economic recovery and build a multipolar world.

Xi continued his state visit in Russia, meeting with Putin and Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin on Tuesday. Xi and Putin held two rounds of talks in a restricted session and an expanded format, and the two heads of state signed joint statements after their meeting.

The Joint Statement of the People's Republic of China and the Russian Federation on Deepening the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership of Coordination for the New Era has been signed and released by Xi and Putin at Kremlin has been signed and released by Xi and Putin at Kremlin. On the Ukraine issue, the two sides stressed talks as solution to the crisis and called for respect for security concerns of all countries in resolving the crisis, the Xinhua News Agency reported. Russia said it is committed to resumption of peace talks as soon as possible. 

The two presidents also signed a joint statement on the development planning for the key directions of China-Russia economic cooperation before 2030.

Xi invited the two Russian leaders to visit China, as analysts said this shows that high-level mutual-trust and coordination between the two major powers are solid and will be elevated to a higher level despite the turbulence in the world.

Xi invited Putin to travel to China for the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation this year. When meeting Mishustin, Xi said the invitation was made in his informal meeting with Putin, according to the Xinhua.

It fits the historical logic that Chinese leaders take Russia as a primary choice for their overseas visits, Xi said, adding that China and Russia are each other's biggest neighbor and comprehensive strategic partner of coordination, and that such a relationship has withstood the test of the world's profound changes. Xi also said that China is ready to expand cooperation with Russia in trade, investment, supply chain, mega projects, energy and hi-tech areas.

During the meeting with Xi, Mishustin said he led almost all key cabinet members of the Russian government to meet with the Chinese leader, and they warmly welcomed Xi on his state visit to Russia.

Strategic partnership 

Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations at the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Tuesday that "the high-level mutual trust and mature relations built between the Chinese and Russian leaders show that bilateral ties can withstand the impacts of the profound changes that the world is experiencing at the moment."

The Ukraine crisis and the worsening ties between Russia and the West cannot affect the development of China-Russia ties, and this is a key message sent to the world. It shows that China and Russia are determined to make the world change in a positive way that can better promote multilateralism, multi-polarity and greater democracy in international relations, analysts said. 

Yury Tavrovsky, deputy chairman of the Russian-Chinese Friendship Society and head of the expert council at the Russian-Chinese Committee for Friendship, Peace and Development, told the Global Times that Russia and China "can and must coordinate their efforts" to prevent worsening of the international security situation. 

Nowadays, only Russia and China, two major powers with enough strength and influence, can prevent "the global catastrophe" because "the people in the White House are very irresponsible," Tavrovsky said. 

Xi also called for continuous regular meetings between the Chinese premier and Russian prime minister, and invited Mishustin to visit China, Xinhua reported. The Russian prime minister accepted the invitation and plans to travel to China, Boris Belyakov, a spokesperson for the prime minister, told TASS on Tuesday.

The China-Russia strategic partnership is not just about coordination and cooperation on international affairs, but also includes cooperation on trade, finance, energy, science and technology, as well as the people-to-people exchanges on culture, sports, tourism and so on, said experts. 

It is important for the two heads of state and different governmental departments to establish communication and cooperation channels in different levels and sectors to better promote the development of bilateral ties not just in the field of strategy, but more comprehensively, analysts said.  

Mediation vs instigation 

Xi also met Putin on Monday after he arrived in Moscow. Xi said while having an in-depth exchange of views on the Ukrainian issue with Putin that "China stands ready to continue to play a constructive role in promoting the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis," according to Xinhua.

Xi stressed that, on the Ukraine issue, voices for peace and rationality are building. Most countries support easing tensions, stand for peace talks, and are against adding fuel to the fire. A review of history shows that conflicts in the end have to be settled through dialogue and negotiation, Xinhua reported.

When China keeps making efforts to promote peace and a cease-fire in the Ukraine crisis, most countries, including Russia and Ukraine, welcome or appreciate China's sincerity, and expect that China can actually bring positive change to the current situation, but there is one country - the US, that openly opposes and criticizes China's mediation effort. 

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday that the "world should not be fooled by a potential Chinese-Russian peace plan for Ukraine that would 'freeze' in place territory seized by Russian forces," Bloomberg reported.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a routine press conference on Tuesday that China is not responsible for creating the Ukraine crisis. We are not a party to the crisis, and has not provided weapons to any party to the conflict. The US is in no position to point fingers at China, still less deflect blames on us.

"The US says it wants to stop wars, but it has been involved in virtually all the conflicts and wars in Europe and indeed around the world with only few exceptions. The US says it wants to defend peace, but the world has seen no US effort yet that is actually meant for peace, as it continues to pour weapons into the battlefield," Wang said. 

Wang Wen, professor and executive dean of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on Tuesday that "some Western media outlets always urge China to play a 'constructive role.' Is there anything more constructive than promoting peace?"

"To be realistic, the most urgent task for mediation at the moment is not about solving problems like 'invasion' or 'war crimes,' it's about a cease-fire. Soldiers from both sides get killed every day, and millions of refugees are displaced," Wang Wen said.

Answering a query from US media about whether China is willing to work with the US to promote peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang said that China is willing to work with the international community to continue to play a constructive role in promoting the political settlement of the Ukrainian crisis. " Perhaps you should ask the US side as well if they are willing to make peace talks happen."

"If the US and the West want to see a peaceful political settlement for the Ukraine crisis, they may trust China's experience on mediation and support China's position," since China has successful record on mediating Saudi Arabia-Iran relations, "so that we can prevent more innocent people from dying on the battlefields of Ukraine," Professor Wang Wen said.