OPINIONS Xi-Putin meeting sends more active signal for peace talks on Ukraine issue: Chinese experts


Xi-Putin meeting sends more active signal for peace talks on Ukraine issue: Chinese experts

By Lin Rui | People's Daily app

19:24, March 23, 2023

Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin on his arrival in Moscow, Russia, March 20, 2023. (Photo: Xinhua)

Beijing (People's Daily) - During his three-day visit to Russia, Chinese President Xi Jinping signed two joint statements with Russian President Vladimir Putin and stressed the need to promote a political settlement of the Ukraine issue, promote practical cooperation and deepen the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era.

Chinese experts said that China has been more active in promoting peace talks on the Ukraine crisis and the visit also consolidated friendship and cooperation between China and Russia, which is of great significance to world peace and stability.

Ukraine crisis

Russia reaffirmed its commitment to resume peace talks as soon as possible, which China appreciated. The Russian side welcomed China's willingness to play a positive role in the political and diplomatic settlement of the Ukraine crisis. The joint statement, the talks and the press conferences promoted a peaceful, rational and calming message.

"Xi's visit to Russia signaled that China has been more active in promoting peace talks," said Zhao Minghao, professor at the Institute of International Studies, Fudan University in Shanghai. "China has been actively pushing the Ukraine crisis toward a political resolution including efforts to avoid a serious escalation of the Russia-Ukraine conflict this year and preventing the use of biological and chemical weapons."

During the escalation of the Ukraine crisis, China put forward four principles, called for joint efforts in four areas and shared three observations on Ukraine. Beijing released China's Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis to comprehensively and systematically outline China's basic position and propositions. Russia and Ukraine welcomed the proposal and called on China to play an active and constructive role.

With China successfully resuming diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia earlier this month, the international community "is full of expectations for China's role in the Ukraine crisis," said Li Yonghui, researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian Studies in Beijing.

"China has this strength and influence, but there is still a question of timing," she said. "Only with the concerted efforts from all parties can the crisis in Ukraine be eased and not further escalated. Therefore, the visit contributed to the emergence of such an opportunity."

People welcome Chinese President Xi Jinping in Moscow, Russia, March 20, 2023. (Photo: Xinhua)

China-Russia relations

It was Xi's first visit to a foreign country this year and the first since becoming Chinese president earlier this month.

"This reflects the particularity and importance of China-Russia relations," Li said. Relations will consolidate and deepen under the guidance of the two heads of state, she said.

Xi and Putin signed and released the Joint Statement of the People's Republic of China and the Russian Federation on Deepening the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership of Coordination for the New Era.

In the statement, the two sides said that China-Russia relations are not the kind of military-political alliance that existed during the Cold War. They transcend such a model of state-to-state relations and have the nature of no alliance, no confrontation and not targeting any third party.

"China-Russia relations have actually surpassed the scope of bilateral relations and have global significance," Li said. "This new type of major power relations is conducive to world stability and peace."

The visit is of great significance to China-Russia relations on at least two points, said Zhao, the Shanghai professor.

First China and Russia are each other's largest neighbors and both are nuclear powers. Maintaining peace and friendship between China and Russia is of great significance to world peace and stability, he said.

Second, China and Russia will expand this cooperation in different mechanisms including the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and the United Nations.

In his opinion, this kind of coordination shows that China and Russia will be more conducive to maintaining the international order with the United Nations as the core and based on international law.

"This visit will play a role in promoting China and Russia to jointly maintain the basic stability of the international order," Zhao said.

This aerial photo taken on March 16, 2023 shows a China-Europe freight train heading for Moscow at Mafang railway station in Pinggu District of Beijing, capital of China. (Photo: Xinhua)

Practical cooperation

Xi and Putin signed a Joint Statement of the President of the People's Republic of China and the President of the Russian Federation on Pre-2030 Development Plan on Priorities in China-Russia Economic Cooperation. In the statement, the two sides agreed to promote high-quality development of China-Russia economic and trade cooperation, inject new impetus into the comprehensive promotion of bilateral cooperation, maintain the momentum of rapid growth of bilateral trade in goods and services, and commit to significantly increasing bilateral trade volume by 2030.

Li said during this visit, important documents were signed, emphasizing eight cooperation directions and putting forward an important roadmap for practical China-Russia cooperation in the future.

Under the two leaders' guidance, the China-Russia relationship is thriving with new dynamism and vitality. The past years have witnessed booming cooperation in economy, trade and energy.

Over the past decade, bilateral trade has surged from less than $90 billion in 2013 to more than $190 billion last year, and is approaching the target of $200 billion set by the two presidents.

In addition to the fast expansion in volume, the trade structure has also been continuously optimized.

Exports of automobiles and spare parts from China to Russia have increased rapidly.

By the end of last year, Chinese automobile dealers climbed to 1,041 in Russia. Meanwhile, high-quality Russian products like chocolate, ice cream, honey, flour and alcohol have become more widely available for Chinese customers.

Energy cooperation is an important cornerstone of practical cooperation of the two countries. Russia is one of China's leading energy suppliers.

Zhao said that the visit would boost China-Russia economic, technological and energy cooperation.

"In particular Russia's willingness to strengthen economic cooperation with China is rising and now the two sides need to implement and promote more specific projects to deepen this cooperation," he said.

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