From left, senior Chinese diplomatic official Wang I and Russian President Vladimir Putin, February 22, 2023.
Moscow – China is ready to deepen its strategic partnership with Russia, said a high-ranking official of Chinese diplomacy, Wang I, who met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow today. According to Putin, the two countries are reaching a new level of cooperation and could reach a new level of trade this year.
According to Putin, Russian-Chinese relations are developing very well. Regarding the international situation, the Russian president said before the meeting with Wang that it was “complex”, Reuters reported. The two men are to discuss the situation in the world today. Putin also added that he was looking forward to Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Moscow.
Wang Yi, a former foreign minister who took over the top foreign policy position in the Chinese Communist Party at the end of last year, spoke of deepening the strategic partnership with Russia. He also mentioned that other countries should not put pressure on relations between Moscow and Beijing.
“Together with the Russian side, we are ready to show political determination, deepen mutual political trust and expand strategic cooperation to play an even greater constructive role in securing the interests of our countries and promoting the development of the whole world,” the Russian TASS agency quoted the Chinese official as saying.
Already in the morning, the Chinese diplomat held talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. He said at the time that he was looking forward to concluding new agreements during his visit to Moscow.
“No matter how the international situation changes, China has been and remains determined to make efforts together with Russia to maintain a positive trend in the development of relations between the great powers,” a Chinese diplomat told the Russian foreign minister. He did not provide details on what agreements could be made in Moscow.
Wang I is the chief of staff of the Central Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Communist Party of China, and thus has a higher position than the foreign minister. So he is the highest-ranking Chinese diplomat.
As The Wall Street Journal wrote, Chinese President Xi Jinping is planning to visit Moscow sometime in the coming months. According to sources cited by the newspaper, Beijing wants to play a much more active role in ending the conflict in Ukraine. The Chinese president's meeting with Putin should then be part of efforts for peace talks between multiple parties. China also plans to repeat its calls for nuclear weapons not to be used. It is not yet clear when exactly Xi Jinping should arrive in Russia. But they are talking about April or the beginning of May.
China's offer to participate in peace talks was met with only a cold reception by Ukraine's most prominent supporters, the American newspaper wrote. They see Beijing as a defender of Russian attempts to consolidate territorial gains and not as a negotiator in good faith. Countries close to Ukraine want Kiev to regain as much of its territory as possible and for a peace deal to emerge from Ukraine's terms presented by President Volodymyr Zelenskyi in his 10-point proposal to end the war.
“One peace plan for Ukraine is already on the table,” The Wall Street Journal quoted Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský as referring to Zelensky's proposal. “That's the one I support,” Lipavský added.
In this context, the Reuters agency recalls that the United States recently warned Beijing against materially supporting Russia's invasion of Ukraine. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed concern over the weekend that China is considering providing Russia with military equipment to fight in Ukraine, including weapons and ammunition. Beijing denied his claim.
“I don't think I could give a more colorful answer on this topic than what the Chinese officials have already given,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov answered today, according to the TASS agency, when asked by journalists whether Moscow had requested China for military aid. “They vehemently denied it. There is nothing to add to that,” he said. In response to Blinken's words, according to Reuters, China said that the US is not in a position to make demands.
China has not condemned Russia's military aggression in Ukraine and de facto rejects any international sanctions except those approved by the Organization of the United Nations (UN).