Above Photo: Putin-Xi meeting (2023). Kremlin.ru / Wikimedia Commons.
Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomed newly re-elected Chinese President Xi Jinping for a three day summit in Moscow earlier this week. As they conclude their three day meeting, Putin and Xi leave a paper trail of documents demonstrating a significant development in Sino-Russian relations, with both leaders expressing admiration and allegiance for each other’s countries.
From the war in Ukraine to economic cooperation to Latin America, the two leaders found themselves eye to eye on a number of issues and even went as far as welcoming the “new era” with two joint statements: on Deepening the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership of Coordination for the New Era and on the Pre-2030 Development Plan on Priorities in China-Russia Economic Cooperation.
Before meeting directly with Putin, Xi published an article in Rossiyskaya Gazeta, a Russian government newspaper, emphasizing his commitment to working with the country and further strengthening ties. Putin printed an article of his own, revealing his expectations and the significance of the meeting.
Xi points out how Russia was the first country he visited when he was first elected president in 2013 and in the eight visits he has made since, “I came each time with high expectations and returned with fruitful results, opening a new chapter for China-Russia relations together with President Putin.”
Mentions of trade and project collaboration with Russia also come up in Xi’s article. “China has been Russia’s largest trading partner for 13 years running. We have seen steady increase in our two-way investment. Our cooperation on major projects in such fields as energy, aviation, space and connectivity is moving forward steadily. Our collaboration in scientific and technological innovation, cross-border e-commerce and other emerging areas is showing a strong momentum,” Xi wrote.
Xi also makes reference to the value of international law and the principles of the UN charter, placing China and Russia as key figures in the global order. Xi states:
China and Russia are firmly committed to safeguarding the UN-centered international system, the international order underpinned by international law, and the basic norms of international relations based on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. We have stayed in close communication and coordination in the UN, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, BRICS, the G20 and other multilateral mechanisms, and worked together for a multi-polar world and greater democracy in international relations. We have been active in practicing true multilateralism, promoting the common values of humanity, and championing the building of a new type of international relations and a community with a shared future for mankind.
Multipolarity is a running theme for both leaders and Xi emphasizes:
The world today is going through profound changes unseen in a century. The historical trend of peace, development and win-win cooperation is unstoppable. The prevailing trends of world multi-polarity, economic globalization and greater democracy in international relations are irreversible. On the other hand, our world is confronted with complex and intertwined traditional and non-traditional security challenges, damaging acts of hegemony, domination and bullying, and long and tortuous global economic recovery. Countries around the world are deeply concerned and eager to find a cooperative way out of the crisis.
During the meeting, many of the same ideas were reiterated, especially in the opening remarks from both leaders. The remarks were posted on the Kremlin website and read:
President of Russia Vladimir Putin:
Mr President, dear friend, welcome to Russia, to Moscow.
I am glad to have a chance to congratulate you in person on your re-election as President of China. This was possible because the Chinese nation and its representatives rightfully appreciate your work over the past decades.
In recent years, China has made a colossal leap forward in its development. It has been the object of sincere interest around the entire world, and we are even a bit envious of you.
China has created quite an effective system to develop the economy and strengthen the state. It is much more effective than what many other countries have, which is an undeniable fact. Market mechanisms go hand in hand with a quite confident policy programme and yield tangible results.
I am sure that, under your leadership, China will continue to make strides in its development in the years ahead and will, without a doubt, fulfill its goals.
It is symbolic that exactly ten years ago, we also met here, and it was your first visit to Russia as the President of the People’s Republic of China. Since then, we have made great strides in developing our relations. Our trade has more than doubled, from just over $87 billion, I believe, to almost $200, $185 billion to be exact. We share numerous goals and objectives.
You personally and all of our Chinese friends devote much attention to Russian-Chinese relations, taking a fair and balanced stance on the majority of topical international issues. We have carefully studied your proposals on resolving the acute Ukraine crisis and we will have an opportunity to discuss this matter. We know that you are guided by the principles of justice and respect for the fundamental provisions of international law and indivisible security for all countries. You are aware as well that we remain open to negotiations. We will, of course, discuss these issues, including your initiatives, which we certainly respect.
Overall, our interaction in the international arena is promoting the fundamental principles of international order and multipolarity. There are lots of economic cooperation issues. Tomorrow, we will discuss this with the participation of our partners and colleagues. I am pleased that you thought fit and took the time to come here in the evening in order to discuss all issues of interest in an informal and friendly atmosphere.
President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping (retranslated):
Mr President, I always call you my dear friend.
I am very pleased to once again pay a state visit to Russia at your invitation, especially so shortly after my most recent re-election as President of the PRC, and I chose Russia for my first foreign visit.
You just mentioned that exactly 10 years ago, when I first became President of the People’s Republic of China, I also chose Russia for my first foreign visit. You reminded me of that, and to this day these pictures are well preserved in my heart.
The Chinese side pays a great deal of attention to promoting Cino-Russian relations, because this has its own historical logic and we are two major neighbouring countries. We are partners in comprehensive strategic interaction and cooperation, and this status determines the close relations between our countries.
Immediately after the successful conclusion of the 20th Congress of the CPC, following the recent session of the Chinese Parliament, and after my successful re-election as Secretary General of the CPC and President of the People’s Republic of China, you immediately sent me messages of greeting. Once again, I express my deep gratitude to you.
I am aware that a presidential election will take place in your country next year. Thanks to your strong leadership, Russia has made significant progress in recent years in achieving results and expanding prosperity. I am sure that the Russian people will strongly support you in your good works.
Indeed, our countries share many overlapping or similar goals as we move forward.
Both our countries are making great efforts to achieve our goal of development and prosperity. For example, we set the goal of upgrading the Chinese model. Russia has also set ambitious goals for developing the country. I am confident that our cooperation and close interaction will definitely help us reach these goals.
I am also very grateful to you for the fact that over the past years, regarding the development and construction of China, you have always had a positive attitude towards us and supported us. Of course, we feel this, and we are grateful to you.
As we continue to promote Cino-Russian international strategic cooperation, we must achieve the goal of ensuring justice and equality in the world while also achieving further development and prosperity in our countries in the process.
I am very grateful to you for your very good initiatives and the fact that today we will have a friendly one-on-one dinner, so that while we talk, we can exchange views on bilateral issues, as well as all issues of mutual interest.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you.
The Kremlin released another transcript where Putin and Xi discuss the specifics of policies and initiatives they hope to work on together including the Belt and Road initiative, energy cooperation, the use of the Chinese yuan for transactions involving global partners, education partnerships and other issues.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin:
President, colleagues, friends,
President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping has a rather packed agenda for his state visit.
Yesterday evening, we had a detailed discussion of all matters related to the bilateral agenda, as well as topical international and regional issues.
We have just completed our talks in a narrow format, where we had quite a meaningful and frank exchange of opinions on the potential we have for further expanding Russian-Chinese ties and better coordinating our actions on the international stage.
We are now meeting in an expanded format in the presence of our delegations, so that we can review in detail practical aspects of our cooperation in various spheres.
Let me remind you that in December 2022, Mr Xi Jinping and I agreed during our talks via videoconference to consider setting new benchmarks for our cooperation, including both quantitative, as well as qualitative indicators.
These agreements paved the way to the drafting of two major conceptual documents for this visit. I am referring to the Joint Statement on Deepening the Russian-Chinese Comprehensive Partnership and Strategic Cooperation for a New Era, as well as the Joint Statement on the Plan to Promote the Key Elements of Russian-Chinese Economic Cooperation until 2030.
These two documents set forth long-term goals for the governments, businesses and civil society of our two countries in terms of delivering on the objectives we share, which deal with facilitating national development in all areas.
Regular meetings between our heads of government will serve as a focal point for delivering on this ambitious objective, and the agenda for this mechanism will cover Russian-Chinese cooperation in all its aspects.
Despite the consequences of the pandemic and the sanctions pressure, trade reached a historic high of $185 billion in 2022. This year, we expect Russian-Chinese trade not only to reach $200 billion, as we agreed with our friends earlier, several years ago, but to go beyond this threshold. As I have already said, trade increased by more than 30 percent over the past year.
The project to align the EAEU and the Chinese President’s Belt and Road initiative opens up further potential for our economies.
When it comes to investment, our countries have compiled a package of 80 important and promising bilateral projects in various fields worth around $165 billion.
Energy cooperation is expanding. Russia is a strategic supplier of oil, natural gas, including LNG, coal, and electricity to China. The construction of nuclear power facilities continues according to schedule. Russian business can meet the Chinese economy’s growing demand for energy, both in terms of the projects currently underway and those that are still in the works.
Russian gas supplies to China are to reach at least 98 billion cubic metres by 2030, plus 100 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas. We have just discussed a good project, the new Power of Siberia-2 gas pipeline across Mongolia. We have reached agreement on most of the deal’s parameters. Russia will export 50 billion cubic metres of gas from reliable, stable supplies.
It is important that our national currencies are increasingly used in bilateral trade. We should continue promoting settlements in national currencies, and expand the reciprocal presence of financial and banking structures in our countries’ markets. As I have already said, at this stage, two-thirds of payments under trade deals between our countries are made in rubles and yuan.
We support using Chinese yuan in transactions between the Russian Federation and its partners in Asia, Africa and Latin America. I am sure that these types of payment will grow between Russian businesses and their counterparts in third countries – as I said – payments in yuan.
Industrial cooperation is deepening. We have good experience working together in civil aircraft construction, shipbuilding, and auto manufacturing. We stand ready to support Chinese businesses in replacing the Western enterprises that left Russia.
Trade in agricultural produce is growing even faster – by 41.4 percent in 2022, when it reached $7 billion in terms of value; importantly, the growth was balanced on both sides – by equal amounts.
The relevant ministries and agencies are working to ensure that there are high quality standards for the products supplied, and improving the regulations for mutual access to food products.
Due to these improvements, we can expect further growth in Russian food exports to the capacious Chinese market and will contribute to raising the level of food security in both countries.
Technological sovereignty is the key to sustainability. We propose further improving strategic partnerships in specific industries. By combining our wealth of research capacity and industrial capabilities, Russia and China can become world leaders in information technology, cyber security, and artificial intelligence.
Stronger ties between regions help diversify our cooperation, above all in trade and investment. China has become Russia’s leading partner in exploring the economic potential of the Far East. Today investors from China are implementing 52 projects worth $10.8 billion in total on priority development territories, as well as the free port of Vladivostok.
In total, Russia and China now have 366 partnerships, including 135 between regions and 231 between municipalities; and 59 Russian regions have agreements with Chinese regions. About 100 municipalities have sister municipalities and partners in China.
The transport and logistics infrastructure is being improved. Our countries have a long land border, so the formation of China-Europe railway and road corridors through Russian territory remains an absolute priority in order to meet the needs of growing cargo and passenger traffic.
Last year, the Blagoveshchensk-Heihe motor bridge was opened in June, and the Nizhneleninskoye-Tongjiang railway bridge was put into operation in November. The launch of traffic on bridges will reduce the cost and time of transporting goods between Russia and China, expand the geography of trade and increase the volume of transit with Asia-Pacific countries.
We believe the cooperation with Chinese partners in developing the transit potential of the Northern Sea Route is promising. As I have said, we are ready to create a joint working body to develop the Northern Sea Route.
Tourist and youth exchanges, as well as contacts in the field of science, culture and education are being restored after the pandemic. In 2022, 6,500 Russian students studied at Chinese universities, including 1,600 in China, with the rest attending remotely. More than 37,000 students from China were trained in Russia. Once coronavirus restrictions are lifted, we expect student exchanges to increase many times over.
More than a hundred events have been held as part of the cross-years of fitness and sports that are currently taking place. Bilateral sports ties are becoming particularly important in today’s difficult conditions, when the Olympic Movement is becoming more and more politically biased, and Western countries are trying to use sports for unseemly purposes as an instrument of pressure. We support work towards the creation of an appropriate sports association within the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.
I believe that our multipronged and mutually beneficial cooperation will continue to grow stronger for the benefit of our countries’ peoples.
And now, of course, I am pleased to give the floor to our guest and friend, Mr Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China.
President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping (retranslated):
I would like to thank you again for your invitation to visit Russia.
Through our common efforts, Cino-Russian relations are evolving at a sound and sustainable pace. Mutual political trust between our countries is deepening, common interests are multiplying, our nations are growing closer, and cooperation in the trade, economic, investment, energy, cultural, humanitarian and interregional dimensions is advancing.
Yesterday, during our informal meeting, and during the talks with Prime Minister Mishustin, as well as during our talks in a narrow format, we had a deep exchange of views on cooperation matters. The scope of our sphere of cooperation is constantly expanding. Our cooperation has achieved significant results. Further development of interaction is being successfully implemented. President Putin has just mentioned this.
In China, this year marks the beginning of the full realisation of the spirit of the 20th Congress of the CPC. We will intensify the formation of a new development architecture, prioritise high-quality development, and comprehensively promote Chinese modernisation.
I know that Russia is rapidly implementing national development goals until 2030. I propose strengthening coordination and interaction in order to derive additional benefits from practical cooperation.
Mr President, I am prepared to join you in outlining a plan for the development of bilateral relations and practical cooperation in the interests of the prosperity and revival of China and Russia.
This concludes my opening remarks. Thank you.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much, esteemed Mr President.
Following the signing of the joint statements, Putin and Xi released more press statements, with transcripts also found on the Kremlin website:
President of Russia Vladimir Putin:
President Xi Jinping, ladies and gentlemen, friends,
It is our sincere pleasure to welcome our dear friend, President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping to Russia on this state visit.
The talks we had yesterday and today, including one-on-one, in a narrow format and in the presence of our delegations were successful, and took place in a warm, comradely, and constructive atmosphere.
The two joint statements we have just signed set forth a framework and fully reflect the special nature of Russian-Chinese relations, which are at the highest level in all our history, offering a model of a genuine comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation. Russia and China share solid bonds of neighbourly relations, mutual support and assistance, and friendship between our peoples. We maintain proactive dialogue at all levels.
The President of China and I remain in touch at all times. Apart from bilateral summits, we meet on the sidelines of international events, and regularly talk to each other on the phone and by videoconference to discuss matters of mutual interest. This enables us to resolve all issues, even the most challenging ones, and to oversee all topical matters on the bilateral and international agenda.
Of course, trade and economic cooperation remain a priority for us, considering that China has solidly established itself as the leading foreign trade partner for our country. Our two countries have been effective in working together to expand mutual trade and maintain this momentum. Last year, trade increased by 30 percent to set a new record of $185 billion. This year, trade may well exceed $200 billion, which would be a symbolic threshold.
The Joint Statement concerning the plan to expand key economic cooperation areas until 2030 sets the task of increasing the volume of trade in goods and services multiple times over, deepening ties in eight strategic areas, primarily finance, industrial manufacturing and technology, as well as transport and logistics. The governments of Russia and China, the business circles of our two countries should start without delay the practical study of the provisions of the Statement and agree on a set of measures for implementing them replete with specific mutually beneficial initiatives and projects.
Expanding settlements between our countries in national currencies is a serious incentive for promoting trade and investment cooperation. As of the end of the first three quarters of 2022, the share of the ruble and yuan in mutual commercial transactions reached 65 percent and continues to grow, which allows us to protect mutual trade from the influence of third countries and negative trends on global currency markets.
Naturally, energy cooperation which is moving forward at a good pace was reviewed in detail during the talks. China is the leading importer of Russian oil, while Russia is prepared to scale up uninterrupted oil supplies for the Chinese economy.
The gas sector offers broad prospects for Russian-Chinese cooperation. In 2022, Russia increased gas supplies to China via the Power of Siberia main pipeline by 50 percent, and Gazprom met its Chinese colleagues halfway and made additional deliveries on top of contractual obligations, which, of course, speaks to what a trustworthy supplier and a reliable partner our company is.
Russian gas exports to China will get a boost from the implementation of the intergovernmental agreement concluded in January on laying the Far Eastern gas route and the implementation of an initiative to build the Power of Siberia-2 gas pipeline across Mongolia. We discussed this in detail and have reached corresponding agreements with Mongolia. This represents about 50 billion cubic metres of gas per year. Russia is also the fourth largest LNG supplier to China, and LNG supplies will expand in the foreseeable future.
Interaction on peaceful nuclear power is progressing successfully. Russia is helping build nuclear power plants in China: the construction of units 7 and 8 at the Tianwan NPP and units 3 and 4 of the Xudabao NPP is on track, to be completed as scheduled. The implementation of the Long-term Cooperation Programme that was signed during the visit by Rosatom and the China Atomic Energy Authority will help strengthen partnerships in this area.
We attach great importance to the further strengthening of bilateral industrial cooperation. Chinese automakers are successfully operating on the Russian market and expanding their presence. Major joint projects are being implemented in civil aircraft and helicopter production, non-ferrous metallurgy, space exploration, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, as well as other science-intensive areas.
Agriculture is a strategic area of Russian-Chinese partnership. Bilateral agricultural trade is skyrocketing: last year it grew by more than 41 percent. There are opportunities to significantly increase exports of meat, grain and other goods to China.
Let me note in this context that in general Russia and China intend to actively develop international transport and logistics corridors. The idea is to make greater use of the potential of the Trans-Siberian and Baikal-Amur railways, the Northern Sea Route, and multi-lane trans-Asian highways, to guarantee their stable operation together, and to make the transportation of goods and passengers more efficient.
In order to ensure that the volume of cargo flows is growing in both directions, we are increasing the capacity of border crossings and consistently expanding the border infrastructure. Thus, two new cross-border bridges opened last year: a motor bridge in the Blagoveshchensk Region and a railway bridge in the Jewish Autonomous Region of Russia.
Bilateral cultural cooperation is traditionally multifaceted. After the anti-COVID restrictions were lifted, cultural, scientific, educational and tourist exchanges have begun to gradually return to their usual excellent dynamics, which in fact contribute to the further deepening of friendship, mutual understanding and sincere affection between Russian and Chinese citizens.
Let me remind you that 2022–2023 were declared Cross Years of Russian-Chinese Cooperation in Fitness and Sports in our countries. The plan of events is being implemented; there are over 600 events that include such spheres as mass, youth and university sports, sports science, elite sports and Paralympic sports.
And of course, we are looking forward to welcoming a delegation of Chinese athletes next spring in Kazan at the I Games of the Future International Multisport Tournament in innovative sports. These competitions combine physical activity with digital and scientific elements. This is a very promising initiative that is a draw for young people, which we could promote together with our Chinese friends, and in this regard, we invited them to host the second such Games in China.
When discussing topical international and regional problems, the President and I affirmed that Russia and China’s views on them are identical or very close.
We noted the rise of tensions in many regions of the world, and the accumulation of conflict and crisis potential in the global economy and politics. We can see that the practice of applying illegitimate, politically biased sanctions and other restrictions, and the use of other means of unfair competition in the economic struggle is expanding.
Seemingly unshakable principles, such as non-interference in internal affairs, the rights of countries to a sovereign model of development, freedom of trade, access to modern technologies and even to education, are being violated. And in this context, Russia and China strongly oppose any state or bloc seeking to harm the legitimate interests of any other country in order to obtain military, political and economic advantages.
Of course, we did not ignore developments around Ukraine. We believe that many of the provisions of the peace plan put forward by China are consonant with Russian approaches and can be taken as the basis for a peaceful settlement when the West and Kiev are ready for it. However, so far, we have not seen such readiness on their part. Moreover, I was just informed that while the Chinese President and I were discussing the possibility of implementing the Chinese peace plan – and the Chinese President devoted considerable attention to his peace initiatives during our one-on-one conversation yesterday – the UK deputy defence minister announced that the United Kingdom would supply not only tanks to Ukraine, but also depleted uranium shells.
It seems that the West really has decided to fight Russia to the last Ukrainian – no longer in words, but in deeds. But in this regard, I would like to note that if all this comes to pass, then Russia will have to respond accordingly. What I mean is that the collective West is already starting to use weapons with a nuclear component.
At the same time, I would like to emphasise that Russia and China pursue an independent and sovereign foreign policy. We jointly work to create a more just and democratic multipolar world order, which should be based on the central role of the UN, its Security Council, international law, and the purposes and principles of the UN Charter.
We consider it important to continue to maintain close coordination within the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and BRICS, to work in conjunction with the G20, APEC and many other multilateral platforms, and, of course, to continue efforts to link integration processes within the EAEU and the Chinese Belt and Road initiative with an eye to creating the Greater Eurasian Partnership in the future.
In conclusion, I would like to once again thank Mr Xi Jinping and all our Chinese friends for the productive joint work and to express confidence that the agreements reached during the visit will serve to further strengthen Russian-Chinese friendship and contribute to the well-being and prosperity of our countries and peoples.
Thank you for your attention.