Published: 10:09, May 16, 2024
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Ties at highest level, Putin says ahead of China visit
By Cao Desheng

President Xi Jinping will roll out the red carpet for Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday, as the latter is set to arrive in Beijing for a state visit to China amid high expectations that the two countries will renew their cooperation and coordination for economic growth and global stability.

Ahead of the two-day visit, Putin highlighted the sound development of Russia-China relations in a written interview with Xinhua News Agency, saying, "Russia-China relations have reached the highest level ever, and despite the difficult global situation, continue to get stronger."

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The relationship "has always relied on the principles of equality and trust, mutual respect for the sovereignty and consideration of each other's interests", he said.

Putin recalled his interactions with President Xi in the past decade or so, during which, they have met more than 40 times in various bilateral and multilateral settings.

"President Xi maintains a respectful, friendly, open and at the same time business-like style of communication. Our every meeting is not just a dialogue between old friends, which is important, too, just like for everyone, but also a fruitful exchange of views on the most topical issues on the bilateral and international agenda," he said.

The Russian president emphasized that Russia-China ties are free from the influence of either ideology or political trends. Their multidimensional development is an informed strategic choice based on the wide convergence of core national interests, profound mutual trust, strong public support and the genuine friendship between the peoples of the two countries, he said.

In the past five years, trade between the two countries has doubled, he noted, saying that China has been Russia's largest trading partner for 13 consecutive years, and in 2023, Russia ranked fourth among China's trading partners.

"We are working to contribute to the development and prosperity of Russia and China by enhancing equal, mutually beneficial economic and humanitarian cooperation, and strengthen foreign policy coordination in the interests of building a just multipolar world order," he added.

Putin's visit, his first foreign trip since he was sworn in for a fifth term as Russian president on May 7, mirrors Xi's state visit to Russia in March 2023, when Xi chose Russia for his first visit to a foreign country after being elected as Chinese president at the first session of the 14th National People's Congress.

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Putin's visit also comes against the backdrop of the protracted Ukraine crisis. During the interview, he said that Russia is seeking a comprehensive, sustainable and just settlement of this conflict through peaceful means.

Putin commended China's proposals to resolve the crisis, and said that Beijing proposes practicable and constructive steps to achieve peace by refraining from pursuing vested interests and constant escalation of tensions, and minimizing the negative impact of the conflict on the global economy and the stability of global value chains.

"They could therefore lay the groundwork for a political and diplomatic process that would take into account Russia's security concerns and contribute to achieving a long-term and sustainable peace," he said. "Unfortunately, neither Ukraine nor its Western patrons support these initiatives."