MOSCOW: Chinese President Xi Jinping is due in Moscow on Monday (Mar 20) for his first visit abroad since starting his third term in office earlier this month.
Beijing said the visit will deepen trust, while Moscow said it will strengthen strategic cooperation.
Hours after Friday’s announcement of the trip, an international arrest warrant was issued for Russian President Vladimir Putin on war crimes charges.
Both nations have claimed Russia’s actions in Ukraine are not going to harm any aspect of their relationship, with Russia presenting the visit of the leader of the world’s second largest economy and geopolitical heavyweight as a major endorsement.
TRADE RELATIONS BETWEEN RUSSIA AND CHINA
Russia has lost many partners and a lot of trade since invading Ukraine last year.
Beijing was instrumental in picking up the slack of lost Western markets, with Russian exports to China growing nearly 45 per cent in 2022 and trade turnover increasing by 30 per cent year-on-year.
“The Chinese are taking over some of the industries,” said Dr Vasily Kashin, director of the Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies at the Russian Higher School of Economics.
He noted that the Chinese share of the Russian car market quadrupled last year.
Russia is genuinely interested in China supplying industrial equipment, materials, components and also replacing the Western producers in a number of sectors, he added.
Beijing has also provided a political buffer at the United Nations by abstaining on votes condemning Russia’s actions and continuing to strengthen political ties despite powerful Western opposition.
That seems to be good enough for the Kremlin, which ahead of the visit said it appreciates the “restrained and measured” position of China.
With damage to their relationship seemingly limited despite Moscow’s actions, the Kremlin said it is hoping to strengthen cooperation when the leaders meet.
In line with that is the expected signing of what Moscow described as two “important bilateral documents” on deepening comprehensive partnership relations and on developing key areas of economic cooperation until 2030.
Their cooperation is made easier by an aligned world view, said Professor Alexey Maslov from the Institute of Asian and African Studies at Moscow State University.
Ukraine will be discussed and so will military-technical cooperation with China.
However, China said it has not, and will not, supply weapons to Russia despite US intelligence alleging otherwise.
Moscow said it has “acknowledged” China’s suggestions for peace. Beijing has given no indication though, that pressure or political influence is being leveraged to make that happen.