Xi meets Lavrov, reaffirms China's emphasis on partnership with Russia
Published: Apr 09, 2024 10:17 PM
Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) greets Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on April 9, 2024. Photo: Xinhua

Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) greets Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on April 9, 2024. Photo: Xinhua

Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday in Beijing. Chinese analysts said the meeting sends a strong signal that China will firmly develop its strategic partnership with Russia, despite pressure from the West. The China-Russia partnership continues to be key for the global strategic balance and the hope for promoting a multipolar world in which countries of the Global South will have greater roles to play. 

Xi asked Lavrov to convey his sincere greetings to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Noting that this year marks the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries, Xi said China and Russia have embarked on a new path of harmonious coexistence and win-win cooperation between major countries and neighbors, which has benefited the two countries and their peoples and contributed wisdom and strength to international fairness and justice, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held talks with Lavrov in Beijing, and both sides expressed hope for strengthening practical cooperation in various fields, Xinhua reported.

Wang, also a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said that China is willing to work with Russia, in accordance with the consensus reached by the two heads of state, to strengthen the synergy of the two countries' development plans and promote practical cooperation in various fields.

The top diplomats of the two countries held a joint press conference after their meeting. Wang mentioned "five always" at the press conference. For example, he said that the two countries should always follow the strategic guidance of head-of-state diplomacy, and should always adhere to the principle of no-alliance, no-confrontation and no-targeting at any third party.

China and Russia should always stay on the right course on major matters of principle. As permanent members of the UN Security Council and major emerging countries, China and Russia actively respond to the common aspirations and legitimate concerns of the people of all countries, advocate a new path of state-to-state relations featuring dialogue and partnership rather than confrontation and alliance, and actively promote the building of a community with a shared future for humanity, said Wang. 

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 Tuesday that the remarks made by Xi and the "five always" raised by Wang provide a "framework and outline" for the future development of the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination.

Yet many voices from the West, mainly from the US as well as some senior NATO officials, insist on depicting the China-Russia relationship as akin to an "anti-West alliance," which is completely wrong. By reaffirming the principles of "non-alignment, non-confrontation, and not targeting any third party," China and Russia are refuting those voices with a clear stance, experts said.

Multipolar world

China always attaches great importance to the development of China-Russia relations, and stands ready to strengthen bilateral communication with Russia and enhance multilateral strategic coordination in BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation  Organisation (SCO), Xi said when meeting with the visiting Russian top diplomat.

Xi said that the two countries will show more responsibility, unite countries in the Global South in the spirit of equality, openness, transparency and inclusiveness, promote the reform of the global governance system, and vigorously lead the building of a community with a shared future for humanity.

China and Russia are trying to promote a multipolar world where developing countries and emerging economies of the Global South will play a greater role, which is the antithesis of the unipolar world dominated by the US, analysts said. 

"China and Russia will not target any third party, but if hegemonic forces threaten China and Russia, or threaten world peace, China and Russia will stand together and fight to protect their own interests and safeguard world peace together," said Li Haidong, a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University. 

This is why China and Russia, as well as other members in the UN Security Council, are pushing an immediate cease-fire and the resumption of humanitarian aid to Gaza, even as the US vetoed these attempts time and again, before the Ramadan cease-fire resolution eventually passed on March 25, experts said.

Wang said at the joint press conference that Russia will hold the BRICS presidency this year, and China will take over the rotating presidency of SCO this year. The two sides will support each other's chairmanship and light up the "moment of South" global governance.

Richard Sakwa, professor of Russian and European politics at the School of Politics and International Relations of the UK's University of Kent, told the Global Times at a forum in Beijing on March 28 that China-Russia relations are "one of the key axes for international politics, and it's not only very important but also necessary" to maintain the global strategic balance.

Lavrov said at the meeting with Wang that Russia supports the China-initiated Global Security Initiative, and is willing to deepen cooperation with China on multilateral platforms to promote the establishment of a more just and democratic international order.

The two sides also had in-depth exchanges on the Ukraine issue, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the situation in the Asia-Pacific region and other international and regional issues of common concern.

Ukraine crisis and counterterrorism

Wang said at the joint press conference with Lavrov that on the Ukraine issue, China hopes to see a "cease-fire and an end to the war as soon as possible." China supports the timely convening of an international conference recognized by both Russia and Ukraine, with equal participation by all parties, and a fair discussion of all peace options, whether it is track one or track two, Wang noted.

Cui Heng, a scholar from the Shanghai-based China National Institute for SCO International Exchange and Judicial Cooperation, told the Global Times on Tuesday that "some Western countries have always blamed China for its 'pro-Russia' stance, but actually we are just asking for a mechanism that can be accepted by all parties and can treat everyone equally."

"China's stance is based on the desire to stop the bloodshed, but the US' stance is to use the [Russia-Ukraine] conflict to weaken Russia as much as possible. The development of the crisis to some extent depends on the US presidential election later this year," Cui noted "If Donald Trump is elected, there will be a chance to break the deadlock, but if Joe Biden gets reelected, we might also see some changes, as Washington and its allies might not be able to afford the war anymore."

Xi stressed at the meeting with Lavrov that China supports the Russian people in following a development path that suits their national conditions, and supports Russia in combating terrorism and maintaining social security and stability.

At the joint press conference with Lavrov on Tuesday, Wang stressed that China must also pay attention to the resolution of other global and regional hot spot issues, including continuing to counter terrorism. "China once again reiterated its condemnation of the terrorist attack in Moscow and its condolences and support for Russia," said Wang. 

"The Chinese people are also victims of terrorism, and terrorism has always been a common threat facing mankind. The international community should resolutely combat all forms of terrorism with a 'zero tolerance' attitude, firmly support the efforts of all parties to maintain national security and stability, strengthen international anti-terrorism cooperation, coordinate development and security, and eliminate the breeding grounds for terrorism," Wang remarked.

"I want to thank China for their condolences in connection with the terrorist attack in the Moscow Region on March 22, and for their support of Russia's fight against terrorism," Lavrov said during the meeting with Wang.

All those involved [in the terrorist attack] will be certainly punished, Russia's top diplomat stated. "Our [Russia-China] cooperation on counter-terrorism will continue, including within the framework of multilateral institutions."

China and Russia are two major powers in the SCO, and  counter-terrorism cooperation between them and other SCO members is significant for regional peace and stability, especially when the threat of terrorism has reemerged in relevant regions, experts said. Apart from the discussion on the diplomatic level, the militaries, law-enforcement and intelligence agencies of the two countries will promote cooperation on combating terrorism, experts said.