The Russian presidency confirmed this Friday the visit of the Chinese president to Moscow. In a statement, cited by Reuters, the Kremlin revealed that Xi Jinping will be in Russia between March 20 and 22 for an official visit, after being invited by Vladimir Putin.
The visit of the Chinese president to Russia comes at a time when Beijing has already offered to mediate peace in Ukraine, even offering a flat with a view to ending the conflict between Moscow and Kiev – a diplomatic effort that the West viewed with skepticism, given the ambiguity and scope of Chinese proposals. Ukraine raised doubts about China’s neutrality, Moscow only welcomed the contribution of “Chinese friends”. But this Friday, not a single concrete word about Beijing’s possible efforts to end the war.
The Kremlin statement said that, during the meeting, Putin and Xi will discuss how to develop their strategic partnership and that the two leaders will sign “a significant number of bilateral documents”.
Beijing, for its part, also confirmed the visit: the spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Wang Wenbin, revealed that Xi Jinping’s trip to Moscow aims to “deepen bilateral trust”, adding that the heads of state will exchange views on international and regional matters.
Earlier in the week, The Wall Street Journal revealed that Xi Jinping also wanted to speak with the Ukrainian president after the meeting with Putin but, so far, no official source has provided clarification on this alleged conversation with Volodymyr Zelensky, which should take place virtually. It is also not known, so far, whether the president of China, who was recently elected to a third term – unprecedented feat in Beijing – will take advantage of the trip to Russia to visit other European countries, a possibility that was also advanced by the Wall Street Journal, citing close sources with knowledge of the subject.
The moves by Xi Jinping, 69 years old, after securing his third term as China’s head of state, could be seen as an attempt by Beijing to continue asserting itself as a global power against the United States and its allies, placing it if in a place of superiority, noted the Wall Street Journal – especially after, last week, Beijing mediated a diplomatic understanding between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
China and Russia, on the other hand, agreed in February 2022 to an “unlimited” partnership, when Putin visited Beijing for the opening of the Olympic Games – a few weeks before the Russia invade Ukraine.
In the last year, the Chinese head of state and the Russian president held video conferences and met several times in person, notably last September, in Uzbekistan, on the Chinese president’s first international trip since the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic.
Putin and Xi have on many occasions reaffirmed the strengthening of ties between the two nations and, since the beginning of the war, China has become the biggest buyer of Russian oil, a key source of revenue for Moscow.