Beijing, March 20, 2023 (Reuters) /PRNewswire/ – The world is witnessing profound changes not seen in a century: increasing geopolitical turmoil, a heightened confrontation between unilateralism and multipolarity, an unprecedented pandemic, and the brewing Russia-Ukraine crisis.
Against this global backdrop, Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin will meet in Moscow on March 20-22 to discuss the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership, exchange views on major international and regional issues, and exchange practical views promote cooperation between the two countries, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
In China, the annual meetings of the national legislature and the supreme advisory body have just concluded. The Chinese government announced its GDP target for 2023: around 5 percent growth, which many consider conservative given the rapid recovery in Chinese economic activity. In addition, the country recently brokered a peace agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which successfully promoted the resumption of diplomatic relations.
As China restarts its economy – a key driver of the ailing world economy – and plays a more active role in world politics, the international community has high expectations for the upcoming meeting between the Chinese and Russian presidents.
A journey for world peace
The forthcoming state visit to Russia marks Xi’s first trip abroad after assuming his third term as Chinese president earlier this month. It is also his first visit to Russia since the start of the Russia-Ukraine conflict in February 2022.
The visit will further deepen mutual trust and understanding between the two countries, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a regular news conference. It will also be a journey to promote peace.
Wang noted that the China-Russia relationship is based on the principles of non-association, non-confrontation and the principle of no third party being targeted. He further said that on this basis, China and Russia will promote a multipolar world and a higher degree of democracy in international relations, as well as contribute to the development and progress of the world.
Referring to the much-anticipated talks on the Ukraine crisis, Wang said China will continue to maintain its objective and fair position on the issue and play a constructive role in promoting peace talks.
China’s success in brokering a rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran has not only demonstrated the feasibility of peace talks, but also raised hopes that the same might be possible in resolving the Ukraine conflict.
Yuan Sha, a research fellow in the Department of American Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, pointed out that China has friendly relations with both Russia and Ukraine, and that China’s constructive mediation role between Russia and Ukraine is expected as China’s successful mediation between Saudi Arabia and Iran has earned the country a reputation as an honest and constructive mediator.
Yuan added that China has always been committed to promoting peace and facilitating negotiations between Russia and Ukraine.
A collaborative trip to promote global economic recovery
“The more turbulent world affairs become, the more important it is that China-Russia relations continue to develop,” Chinese Ambassador to Russia Zhang Hanhui said in a recent interview.
According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Xi’s visit to Russia will be a cooperation-oriented trip to promote mutually beneficial cooperation in various fields, deepen the synergy between the New Silk Road initiative and the Eurasian Economic Union, and help the two countries realize it to support their respective development and revitalization goals.
China’s proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) will celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2023. On the occasion, Cui Hongjian, director of the Department of European Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, said Russia is an important partner China’s on the BRI cooperation and that the future continuation of cooperation within this framework can bring benefits to other countries and regions.
Ding Xiaoxing, director of the Eurasia Institute of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, pointed out that China and Russia can steadily advance their projects in fields such as energy and infrastructure, and that the steady increase in Sino-Russian cooperation will provide further positive impetus for the provide a global economic upswing.
In 2022, China-Russia bilateral trade hit a record $190.27 billion, according to Ambassador Zhang. He added that energy trade has played an even more important role in bilateral trade, while China’s exports of electrical products, cars and auto parts to Russia have all seen significant growth.
A Chinese-European freight train bound for Moscow left Beijing on Thursday. The train, loaded with goods including household appliances, clothing and car parts, is expected to arrive after a journey of around 18 days.
“We believe that Sino-Russian trade will reach a new peak in 2023. We are striving to reach the $200 billion trade target set by the two heads of state by the end of this year,” Zhang said.
While cooperation between the two countries is thriving in all areas, human and cultural exchanges are also thriving. In 2023, the two peoples will celebrate the year of sporting exchange.
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