Xi Jinping calls for China, Russia to 'elevate cooperation' in talks with Mishustin

·4 min read

Beijing will continue to provide firm support for Moscow's issues of core interest, Chinese President Xi Jinping told visiting Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin on Wednesday.

Xi made the remarks during their meeting in Beijing - the latest show of solidarity between the two neighbours that are both under growing pressure from the West.

He said that in addition to strengthening cooperation in multilateral platforms such as the United Nations, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the Group of 20, China and Russia should explore "potential" new economic, trade and investment links.

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"We hope that the two sides will continue to take advantage of ... the strong momentum of Sino-Russian cooperation, elevate cooperation in various fields ... and continuously enrich the content of the comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership between our two countries in the new era," Xi told Mishustin, according to Xinhua.

"China is ready to work with Russia and countries of the Eurasian Economic Union to promote and connect the Belt and Road Initiative with the union in order to develop and establish a bigger regional market, ensure a more stable and robust global supply chain so [we can] bring real and tangible benefits to the countries in the region," Xi was quoted as saying.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping (second from left) attends a meeting with the Russian prime minister at the Great Hall of the People. Photo: via Reuters alt=Chinese leader Xi Jinping (second from left) attends a meeting with the Russian prime minister at the Great Hall of the People. Photo: via Reuters>

In response, Mishustin said Russia was "ready to work with China to promote multipolarisation in the world and consolidate the international order based on international law", according to the Xinhua report.

A Chinese foreign ministry readout did not say whether Xi and Mishustin discussed the war in Ukraine.

Mishustin, who took office in January 2020, is the most senior Moscow official to visit China since Russia invaded Ukraine 15 months ago.

The trip comes as Russia is seeking to boost trade ties with China to offset economic isolation from Western-led sanctions.

Beijing has refused to condemn Moscow's aggression against Ukraine and has rejected joining what it calls "unilateral sanctions" against Russia, insisting that its trade with Russia is "normal" and should not be "subjected to inference or coercion by third parties".

It also comes as China's peace envoy Li Hui is in Europe, on Tuesday meeting Frederic Mondoloni, director general of political and security affairs at the French foreign ministry in Paris.

According to the Chinese readout, Li - China's special representative for Eurasian affairs - told his French hosts that China and France had "a lot in common" over the war in Ukraine. Li also repeated Beijing's support for Europe's "strategic autonomy" to build what he called "a balanced, effective and sustainable security architecture".

However, a French government statement said Mondoloni had stressed to Li "Russia's full responsibility for the outbreak and continuation of the war". He also urged China to play "a constructive role in achieving a return to a just and sustainable peace in Europe, in accordance with international law, particularly the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine".

In Beijing earlier on Wednesday, Chinese Premier Li Qiang welcomed his Russian counterpart with a ceremony at the Great Hall of the People.

During their meeting, Mishustin said bilateral ties between the two neighbours were "at an all-time high".

The Russian prime minister said 70 per cent of cross-border settlements between Russia and China were already being made in roubles and yuan, according to Russian news agency Sputnik.

Mishustin also reportedly called for joint efforts with Beijing to address "new challenges posed by increased international volatility and illegal sanctions pressure from the West".

Mishustin visited Shanghai on Tuesday, where he told more than 1,300 business representatives and diplomats at a forum that China and Russia would expand cooperation - particularly in areas such as energy and agriculture, as well as in digital and the hi-tech industry.

With Russia's energy exports to China projected to increase by 40 per cent this year, Mishustin was optimistic about bilateral trade, saying he expected it to reach a record US$200 billion by the end of 2023 - a year ahead of a target set by Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2019.

This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2023 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

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