Chinese President Shi Cinping visited Moscow on 20-22 March 2023 at the official invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin. This was Jinping’s first visit to Moscow after Russia’s intervention in Ukraine. At the same time, these contacts are seen as a sign of Beijing’s strong support for Moscow.
Just before the aforementioned visit took place, Jinping published an article titled “Moving Forward to Open a New Page in China-Russia Friendship, Cooperation and Joint Development” to be published in Russian newspapers. Likewise, Putin has written an article titled “Russia and China: A Partnership for the Future” to be shared in the Chinese state media. At this point, it is necessary to include the analysis of the leaders.
Stating that he would visit Moscow upon the invitation of Putin, Jinping stated that he had made 8 visits to Russia last 10 years and returned with fruitful results from all of them. There is still a strong potential and mutual political will for the growth of bilateral relations. On a personal level, friendships with Putin have been the main driving force in these relations. At this point, the important message given by Jinping is that:
“ The two countries are determined not to form alliances, engage in conflicts, and target any third party within the framework of lasting friendship and win-win cooperation.”
China-Russia relations offer a multidimensional cooperation framework. It is emphasized that bilateral trade has doubled in the last 10 years and China has become Russia’s largest trading partner. İşbirliği sektörleri enerjiden havacılık ve uzaya kadar bir dizi alanda istikrarlı bir şekilde gelişmektedir. China aspires to the growth of this comprehensive strategic partnership in the coming years. In this context, Jinping underlined that his visit to Moscow would be a “journey of friendship, cooperation and peace.” With these words, the Beijing administration gave a clear message to Moscow on the point of ending the war in Ukraine. Accordingly, the development of the Chinese-Russian strategic partnership can only be possible in an atmosphere of peace.
In order to take the relations one step further, the parties need to increase coordination and jointly decide on future plans. Accordingly, the importance of increasing mutual trust is emphasized. The most important contribution of the intensified ties will be in the trade dimension. In this context, the Beijing administration calls on Moscow to support the Belt and Road Initiative and says that it will support the Eurasian Economic Union in return. Immediately afterwards, emphasizing that the world is facing complex and intertwined security problems, Jinping proposed the implementation of the Global Development and Security Initiatives of states to build a common civilization.
In this article, which he published in the Russian media before his visit to Moscow, Jinping also gave important messages about the Russian-Ukrainian War. Stating that there is a multifaceted escalation in the war, Jinping reiterated his country’s neutral stance once again and expressed his support for peace talks. Referring to the “Political Opinion Document on the Ukraine Crisis” published on February 24, 2023, Jinping stated that the aims and principles of the United Nations (UN) Charter should be observed. Emphasizing that there will be no easy solution to this complex problem, the Beijing administration said that they can find a reasonable way by conducting a comprehensive, equal, rational, and result-oriented dialogue where all parties meet on common points.
It can be said that this visit is especially in the spring. Jinping pointed out that every spring is a new beginning and expressed his hope that this visit will open a new page in bilateral relations.
First of all, Putin states that this visit represents a turning point and that his expectations from the talks are high. Referring to his personal friendship with Jinping, Putin gave the message that bilateral relations have reached the highest level in history and will become stronger. After demonstrating advances in a range of areas, from trade to energy and culture, attention was drawn to close cooperation in international relations.
Noting that the two countries stand firm like a “rock” against global challenges, Putin emphasized the cooperation on international platforms. In this context, Russia states that it supports China’s constructive-peaceful role in the system and the Global Security Initiative. When it comes to Ukraine, Russia appreciated China’s balanced stance and welcomed its contributions to the resolution of the crisis. Putin used the following important expressions in the aforementioned article:
“Like our friends in China, we advocate strict adherence to the UN Charter and respect for the norms of international law, including humanitarian law. We are committed to the principle of the indivisibility of security, which has been grossly violated by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) bloc.”
Russia, which stated that it deserved China’s stance with these words, emphasized the expansion of NATO and implied that the other side was the main culprit. Reminding that Ukraine is the party that withdrew from the peace talks, the Russian leader reiterated that peace plans prepared without taking into account the current geopolitical realities will not bring results. Despite this, Russia emphasizes that it is open to a political and diplomatic solution of the Ukrainian Economy. Later, Putin warned China that NATO’s activities were shifting towards the Asia-Pacific.
Assessment of the Views of the Two Leaders
It can be said that these texts are jointly agreed or have undergone a process of mutual approval. It can be argued that Putin’s article is very similar to Jinping’s article and is a response to it. But instead of using “don’t respond,” Putin used “affirmation phrases” indicating that he understood China’s concerns. Obviously, before going to Moscow, Jinping gave messages of peace and expressed his reservations and concerns about the Ukraine Crisis. Putin, on the other hand, tried to allay Jinping’s concerns. In short, it is understood that Jinping’s message was first written, transmitted to Moscow, and then Putin tried to respond to it.
China’s most important expectation is to end the war in Ukraine. This is the main purpose of Jinping’s visit to Moscow. China also sees convincing Putin to end the war in Ukraine as a means to raise its global image. Putin will not allow Jinping to make a premium on himself. In particular, China’s call for “respect for the UN charter” is causing discomfort for Russia. While Moscow is trying to move away from the issue of the UN charter; it is trying to put the blame on the NATO bloc. It also aims to draw China to its side by saying that the “NATO threat” will spread.
Russia’s expectation from this visit is to break the West’s resistance by making a show of strength together with China. The leaders cannot agree on the messages that will be given, especially over the war in Ukraine. Jinping is going to Moscow to give messages of peace. Joint press release may prompt Jinping to surprise statements that he opposes the war in Ukraine. Putin may not get the warm messages he expects from Jinping. Nevertheless, it is anticipated that these clear messages will be given in bilateral talks. China will not make a move that will make the West happy in public. In other words, Jinping will not please the West by giving harsh messages about Ukraine. In this sense, China will definitely not want Russia to take a hit against the West.
It was not clear until recently whether Jinping would go to Moscow. But in recent weeks there have been new developments that will escalate regional tensions. The determination of the road map of AUKUS has attracted the reaction of China. Perhaps in response, Jinping decided to go to Moscow. In other words, it can be said that China is acting reactively. Because in September 2021, when AUKUS was first announced, China again retaliated for Iran’s admission to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Today, with the effect of the pressure of the Washington administration ,Beijing continues to get closer to Moscow. Although China wants to end the war in Ukraine, it is determined to deepen its ties with Russia.
 “Full Text of Xi’s Signed Article on Russian Media”, Xinhua, https://english.news.cn/20230320/208baba76dc14ed78d308bfa32b9d4e2/c.html, (Date of Accession: 20.03.2023).
 “Vladimir Putin’s Article for People’s Daily Newspaper, Russia and China: A Future-Bound Partnership”, Kremlin, http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/70743, (Date of Accession: 20.03.2023).
 “Full Text of Xi’s…”, op.cit.
 “Vladimir Putin’s Article…”, op.cit.