Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin on his arrival in Moscow, Russia, March 20, 2023. (Xinhua/Shen Hong)
MOSCOW, March 21 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, have vowed during a meeting here on Monday to further deepen bilateral practical cooperation, and step up coordination on multilateral platforms and in international affairs.
Xi arrived in the Russian capital on Monday afternoon for a state visit through Wednesday. When Xi reached the Kremlin, he was greeted by the Kremlin Commandant at the alighting point. Putin warmly shook hands and took photos with Xi. Earlier in the day, the Chinese leader was welcomed by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko and other senior Russian officials by the ramp upon arrival at the Moscow Vnukovo Airport.
It is Xi's first visit to a foreign country this year, and also the first one since his reelection as Chinese president earlier this month.
Chinese President Xi Jinping inspects the honor guard of the three services and watches the march-past at the Moscow Vnukovo Airport in Moscow, Russia, March 20, 2023. (Xinhua/Xie Huanchi)
Noting that he was pleased to pay another state visit to Russia at the invitation of Putin, the Chinese president said that Russia was the first country he visited after he was elected president 10 years ago and memories from that visit remain fresh today.
Putin extended a warm welcome to Xi for his state visit to Russia and once again warmly congratulated him on his reelection as Chinese president.
Over the past 10 years, the two leaders have stayed in close contact. In a signed article published Monday on Russia's newspaper Russian Gazette and the website of RIA Novosti news agency ahead of the visit, Xi recalled that "over the years, I have maintained a close working relationship with President Putin. We have met 40 times on bilateral and international occasions."
Under their guidance, the China-Russia relationship is thriving with new dynamism and vitality. The past years have witnessed such booming cooperation areas as economy, trade and energy. Take two-way trade. Over the past decade, bilateral trade has surged from less than 90 billion U.S. dollars in 2013 to more than 190 billion dollars last year, and is approaching the target of 200 billion dollars 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 in recent years. By the end of last year, the number of automobile dealers of Chinese brands in Russia had climbed to 1,041. Meanwhile, 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 now one of China's leading energy suppliers.
"Our two sides need to raise both the quality and quantity of investment and economic cooperation and step up policy coordination to create favorable conditions for the high-quality development of our investment cooperation," Xi urged in the signed article.
This photo taken on Dec. 2, 2019 shows the joining part of the first highway bridge connecting China and Russia across the Heilongjiang River. (Xinhua/Wang Jianwei)
In the eyes of the Chinese leader, there is a profound historical logic for China-Russia relationship to reach where it is today.
The two countries should further deepen practical cooperation in various fields and strengthen coordination and collaboration on multilateral platforms such as the United Nations to boost their respective national development and rejuvenation, and be a bulwark for world peace and stability, Xi said during Monday's meeting.
His remarks were echoed by the Russian president. With concerted efforts by both sides, Russia-China relations in recent years have delivered fruitful results in various areas, Putin said, adding that Russia stands ready to continue to deepen bilateral practical cooperation, step up communication and collaboration in international affairs, and promote world multi-polarity and greater democracy in international relations.
In the signed article, Xi described his visit to Russia as "a journey of friendship, cooperation and peace." Russian officials and scholars believe that with the Chinese president's visit, bilateral ties will grow deeper to benefit the people of the two countries and the world at large.
The Russian people respect President Xi very much and eagerly look forward to the old friend's visit, said Galina Kulikova, first deputy chairperson of the Russia-China Friendship Association. Kulikova has been engaged in Russian-Chinese public diplomacy for more than 65 years and was awarded the Friendship Medal, China's highest state honor. She said that Xi's visit shows that China attaches great importance to bilateral relations and will promote practical cooperation between the two countries.
Russia and China have set an example for relationship between major countries, said Vasily Kashin, director of the Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies of Russia's National Research University-Higher School of Economics.
"Russia-China relations, which are efficient, responsible and future-oriented, have played a stabilizing role in international affairs," he said.
During the meeting, the Chinese leader noted that Russia will hold the presidential election next year, and under Putin's strong leadership, Russia has made good progress in development and rejuvenation. Xi said he is confident that the Russian people will continue to give firm support to Putin.
This photo taken on March 20, 2023 shows a welcome sign for Chinese President Xi Jinping in Moscow, Russia. (Xinhua/Cao Yang)
Xi's visit also comes at a time when the Ukraine crisis is grinding on. During Monday's meeting, the two sides had an in-depth exchange of views on the Ukraine issue.
Xi stressed that, on the Ukraine issue, voices for peace and rationality are building. Most countries support easing tensions, stand for peace talks, and are against adding fuel to the fire. A review of history shows that conflicts in the end have to be settled through dialogue and negotiation.
China released a document on its position on the Ukraine crisis, advocating the political settlement of the crisis and rejecting the Cold War mentality and unilateral sanctions, said Xi.
China believes that the more difficulties there are, the greater the need to keep space for peace. The more acute the problem is, the more important it is not to give up efforts for dialogue. China will continue to play a constructive role in promoting the political settlement of the Ukraine issue, said Xi.
For his part, Putin said that Russia appreciates China for consistently upholding an impartial, objective, and balanced position and standing for fairness and justice on major international issues. Russia has carefully studied China's position paper on the political settlement of the Ukraine issue and is open to talks for peace. Russia welcomes China to play a constructive role in this regard.
The position paper mentioned by the two leaders was released last month by the Chinese Foreign Ministry to push forward the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis.
In the paper, China put forward a 12-point proposal to end the crisis by addressing both the symptoms and the root causes of the issue, and reiterated the necessity to end the crisis through dialogue and negotiation.
The peace proposal, since being offered, has been welcomed by many countries of the international community. Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, hailed the position paper as "an important contribution."
Saeb Rawashdeh, a political analyst at the Jordan Press Foundation, said that on the first anniversary of the escalation of the crisis, China released the document expounding its position on the issue, hoping to promote an early resolution of the crisis through peaceful dialogue.
China's stance is in line with the universal expectations of peace-loving people around the world, he said.
As Wang Wenbin, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, told a news briefing Monday, China always stands on the side of peace and dialogue, and on the right side of history. China will continue to play a constructive role in the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis, he said. ■