Chinese President Xi Jinping promised today to the Russian Prime Minister Michael Mishustinvisiting Beijing, the “steady support” of China in the cases concerning “fundamental interests”.

Former Cold War rivals, China and Russia have been strengthening diplomatic and trade ties for a decade, a trend that accelerated after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Beijing declares itself a neutral party in this conflict. It calls for respect for the sovereignty of states, but has never publicly condemned the invasion that Russian President Vladimir Putin has been waging since February 2022.

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin arrived in China on Monday. Yesterday, Tuesday, he attended an economic forum in Shanghai and then went to the Chinese capital for talks with his counterpart Li Qiang and President Xi Jinping.

He is the highest-ranking Russian official to visit China since the start of the invasion of Ukraine.

China is willing to continue with Russia steady mutual support on issues concerning the fundamental interests of the two countries.”Xi said, according to China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency.

This vague wording is often used in the context of bilateral meetings with Russian representatives and representatives of other countries. From the Chinese side, it is often a reference to the Taiwan issue.

Xi Jinping also asked “strengthen coordination in multilateral organizations such as the United Nations, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the BRICS and the G20”according to New China.


For his part, Mikhail Mishustin had welcomed earlier today before his Chinese counterpart, Li Chiang, the bilateral relations which have reached “an unprecedented high level”, as he stated during their meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing .

“They are characterized by mutual respect for the interests of one country by the other, the desire to jointly respond to challenges, which is connected to the growing turmoil in the international arena and the pressure of illegal sanctions from the collective West,” he added.

China is Russia’s largest trading partner, with trade reaching $190 billion (€176 billion) in 2022, according to Chinese customs.

Li Chiang highlighted yesterday, Tuesday, that the volume of exchanges has already reached 70 billion dollars (64 billion euros) in the first four months of the year – registering an annual increase of more than 40%.

“The range of investments between the two countries continues to grow. Major strategic programs are also progressing steadily,” the Chinese premier expressed his satisfaction.

Mikhail Mishustin is accompanied by high-ranking Russian officials, mainly the Deputy Prime Minister responsible for Energy, Alexander Novak.

Invitation to Putin

China last year became Russia’s biggest energy customer, allowing Moscow, which is hit by Western sanctions linked to the war in Ukraine, to avoid seeing gas exports collapse.

Alexander Novak said yesterday at the forum in Shanghai that Russian energy deliveries to China will increase by 40% in 2023, according to Russian news agencies.

Thanks to its economic and diplomatic weight, China now has the upper hand in its bilateral relationship with Russia, analysts say, and the imbalance is growing as Moscow’s international isolation grows.

The leaders of the two countries “came closer to each other because of common grievances and concerns than because of common goals,” Ryan Haas, a member of the US think tank Brookings Institution, told AFP.

“They are irritated and feel threatened by Western leadership in the current international system, and they feel that their countries should be more respected in matters where their interests are at stake,” he adds.

In February, the Chinese government released a document calling for a “political settlement” of the conflict and respect for the territorial integrity of all countries – by implication Ukraine.

During a summit held in Moscow in March, President Xi Jinping invited his counterpart Vladimir Putin to visit Beijing.