On his way to Moscow, the Chinese president is trying to portray Beijing as a peacemaker after more than a year of war.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is due in Moscow later on Monday for talks, called for a “rational way” out of the Ukraine crisis, but conceded that it would not be easy to find a solution.
Xi wrote in the Russian government daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta that the discussions could be based on China’s 12-point proposal for a political settlement published last month.
“The document serves as a constructive factor in neutralizing the consequences of the crisis and promoting a political settlement,” Xi wrote, according to a Reuters translation of the article. “Complicated problems have no simple solutions.”
Xi added that the paper reflects “as much as possible” the world community’s views.
Xi’s visit to Moscow is his first since Putin sent Russian troops into Ukraine in February 2022, with Beijing positioning itself as a neutral party even as it reaffirmed close ties with its northern neighbor. The Chinese president will be the first world leader to meet Putin since the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for him last week.
The Chinese and Russian presidents met shortly before Putin sent his troops into Ukraine, and committed themselves to a “borderless” partnership. It is not clear whether Xi was aware of Russia’s plan to invade Ukraine, a close trading partner of Beijing.
Xi has been seeking to present China as a global peacemaker, arguing that a way out of the crisis can be found “if everyone is guided by the concept of common, comprehensive, shared and sustainable security, and pursues dialogue and consultations on an equal footing, in a prudent and pragmatic manner.”
Putin welcomed China’s willingness to play a “constructive role” in ending the conflict in Ukraine and had “high expectations” from Monday’s talks with Xi.
“We have no doubt that they will give a new strong impetus to all bilateral cooperation,” Putin wrote in an article written for a Chinese newspaper and published by the Kremlin on Sunday.
He said that Sino-Russian relations were “at the highest point.”
China did not condemn the war in Ukraine or describe it as an invasion, although it criticized international sanctions imposed on Russia and some of its most prominent political and military figures.
According to reports, Xi may hold phone talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky after his visit to Moscow.
Zelensky gave qualified support to the peace plan when it was released in February, citing the need to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
Foreign Minister Qin Gang had a rare phone conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba last week to urge a political solution, saying China was concerned the war could spiral out of control. Chen urged Ukraine to seek a political solution with Moscow.
He told Kuleba that China has “always upheld an objective and fair stance on the Ukraine issue”.
In turn, Kuleba stressed the importance of territorial integrity and the main points of Zelensky’s peace plan, which includes restoring Ukraine’s borders, the withdrawal of the Russian army and the cessation of all battles.
In Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Xi said his trip to Russia is aimed at strengthening friendship between the two countries, “a comprehensive partnership and strategic interaction,” in a world threatened by “acts of hegemony, tyranny and bullying.”
“There is no universal model of government and no global system where the decisive word belongs to one country,” Xi wrote. “Global solidarity and peace without divisions and disturbances in the common interests of all mankind.”
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