Xi Lauds China-Russia Ties as Putin Arrives in Beijing

Sputnik/Sergei Bobylev/Pool via REUTERS
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping exchange bilateral documents during a meeting in Beijing, China May 16, 2024.

BEIJING/MOSCOW (Reuters) – Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to work with counterpart Vladimir Putin to “rejuvenate” their countries as the pair started a day of talks in Beijing, saying China would “always be a good partner” of Russia, according to Chinese state media.

Putin arrived on Thursday for a two-day state visit that will include detailed talks on Ukraine, Asia, energy and trade with Xi, his most powerful political backer and fellow geopolitical rival of the United States.

“The China-Russia relationship today is hard-earned, and the two sides need to cherish and nurture it,” Xi told Putin as they met in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People.

“China is willing to … jointly achieve the development and rejuvenation of our respective countries, and work together to uphold fairness and justice in the world.”

China and Russia declared a “no limits” partnership in February 2022 when Putin visited Beijing just days before he sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine, triggering the deadliest land war in Europe since World War Two.

By picking China for his first foreign trip since being sworn in this month for a six-year term that will keep him in power until at least 2030, Putin is sending a message to the world about his priorities and the strength of his personal ties with Xi.

Putin told Xi their co-operation was a stabilizing factor.

“It is of crucial significance that relations between Russia and China are not opportunistic and are not directed against anyone,” Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency cited Putin as saying.

Later describing their initial session as “warm and comradely,” Putin outlined sectors where the two are strengthening ties, from nuclear and energy co-operation to food supplies and Chinese car manufacturing in Russia.

The leaders formally signed a statement deepening their strategic relationship, with Xi saying both sides agreed that a political settlement to the Ukraine crisis was the “right direction.”

Putin said he was grateful to China for trying to solve the crisis, adding that he would brief Xi on the situation in Ukraine, where Russian forces are advancing on several fronts.

In an interview with China’s Xinhua news agency before his departure, Putin praised Xi for helping to build a that partnership based on national interests and deep mutual trust.

“It was the unprecedentedly high level of the strategic partnership between our countries that determined my choice of China as the first state that I would visit after taking office as president,” Putin said.

Informal chats between the leaders and senior officials of both sides to be held over tea and dinner later on Thursday are expected to be key to the two-day trip.

Kremlin foreign policy adviser Yuri Ushakov said the talks would range over Ukraine, Asia, energy and trade.

Putin’s newly appointed defense minister, Andrei Belousov, as well as Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Security Council Secretary Sergei Shoigu and Ushakov will also attend, along with Russia’s most powerful CEOs.

Sputnik/Sergei Bobylev/Pool via REUTERS
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping attend an official welcoming ceremony in Beijing, China May 16, 2024.


Putin, 71, and Xi, 70, will participate in a gala celebration marking 75 years since the Soviet Union recognized the People’s Republic of China, which Mao Zedong declared in 1949.

The United States casts China as its biggest competitor and Russia as its biggest nation-state threat while U.S. President Joe Biden says this century will be defined by an existential contest between democracies and autocracies.

Putin and Xi share a broad world view, which casts the West as decadent and declining, just as China challenges U.S. supremacy in everything from quantum computing and synthetic biology to espionage and hard military power.

After meeting Xi, Putin said they were working for a multi-polar world, without closed alliances in Asia.

Putin will also visit the northeastern city of Harbin, which has historic ties to Russia. A mall devoted to Russian-made goods from about 80 Russian manufacturers opened on Thursday, the China Daily said.

China has strengthened trade and military ties with Russia in recent years as the United States and its allies imposed sanctions on both countries, particularly Moscow, for its invasion of Ukraine.

Western governments say China has played a crucial role in helping Russia withstand the sanctions and has supplied key technology that Russia has used on the battlefield in Ukraine.

But China, once Moscow’s junior partner in the global Communist hierarchy, is by far the most powerful of Russia’s friends globally.

Putin’s arrival follows a mission to Beijing late last month by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in part to warn China’s top diplomat Wang Yi against growing military support for Russia.