Russian FM's visit to China 'further strengthens strategic partnership'
Published: Apr 08, 2024 10:38 PM
In this photo released by Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service on Monday, April 8, 2024, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, center, walks from the plane upon his arrival in Beijing, China.Photo:VCG

In this photo released by Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service on April 8, 2024, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (center) walks from the plane upon his arrival in Beijing, China. Photo:VCG

As Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov arrived in China on Monday for an official visit, many observers said the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership will be further strengthened despite US pressure.

At the invitation of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who is also a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, the Russian top diplomat will pay an official visit to China from Monday to Tuesday, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning announced on Sunday.

Mao said at a routine press conference on Monday that the two sides will exchange views and coordinate stances on the development of bilateral ties, cooperation in different fields and the international issues of shared common concern on the sidelines of the 75th anniversary of the establishment of China-Russia diplomatic relations. 

As Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova announced earlier, in Beijing Lavrov will hold talks with Wang. In particular, the ministers will discuss the situation in Ukraine and the Asia-Pacific region, issues of bilateral cooperation and interaction in the international arena, Zakharova said, TASS reported on Monday.

Cui Heng, a scholar from the Shanghai-based China National Institute for SCO International Exchange and Judicial Cooperation, told the Global Times on Monday that "Lavrov could be paving the way for the first foreign visit of President Putin since his reelection, but the final confirmation would be a formal announcement released by the two sides."

Reuters reported in March that Putin will travel to China in May, in what could be the Kremlin chief's first overseas trip of his new presidential term, citing five sources familiar with the matter. The Kremlin, when asked about the Reuters report, said information on Putin's visits would be released closer to the date.

Li Haidong, a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University, said the Russian top diplomat could discuss with China about some urgent and hotspot issues like the Ukraine crisis and counterterrorism cooperation.

Russia just experienced a horrific terrorist attack in Moscow, and the attackers are from Central Asia. Chinese engineers in Pakistan have also been attacked by terrorists in the region, so both China and Russia share common concerns about terrorism, said analysts. 

China and Russia are two major powers in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and counterterrorism cooperation between them and other SCO members is significant for regional peace and stability, especially when the threat of terrorism has reemerged in some regions, experts said. Apart from the discussion on diplomatic level, the militaries, law-enforcement and intelligence agencies of the two countries will also promote the cooperation to target terrorism, experts said.     

China-Russia-US trilateral relations

US Secretary of Treasury Janet Yellen is also on her visit to China and she warned that Chinese companies could face "significant consequences" if they provided "material support for Russia's war on Ukraine," according to the release from US Department of Treasury. 

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said in response China's stance is very clear and has always paid constructive efforts for mediation to stop the conflict. The Chinese foreign ministry added that other countries should not attack and smear the normal relations between China and Russia, and should not harm the legitimate rights and interests of China and Chinese companies, noting China will take firm measures to safeguard its legitimate rights and interests. 

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 Monday China has its own principles in developing ties with major powers like Russia and the US, as "we will never interference in other countries' internal affairs and will not meddle in the ties between other countries, so we hope the US could show the same respect to the China-Russia relations."

China is paying efforts to mediate the conflict between Russia and Ukraine since the very beginning of the crisis, and China never adds fuels to the flame, and if the US sanctions Chinese companies who do normal business with Russia in the name of "supporting Russia's war on Ukraine," that would be very unwise, as China will retaliate for sure, experts said. 

Cui said that the timing of Lavrov's visit to China is very interesting, as it's overlapping with the time of Yellen's visit, and takes place before the potential visit by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, "so this just shows the complexity of the interactions between China, Russia and the US, and in the trilateral relations, China is driven by its own national interests."

Li said in the China-Russia-US relations, "we are in a position with the most flexibility, while the US and Russia have very limited space to change the deadlock and hostility in their relations. The key for China to remain flexible is that we don't favor one take over another."