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China’s Xi Jinping Visits Russia to Discuss “Comprehensive Partnership

Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to visit Russia next week to meet with President Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin announced on Friday, according to Russian state media.[0] The two leaders are set to discuss “pressing issues related to the future of relations of comprehensive partnership and strategic interaction between Russia and China,” the Kremlin said.[1] A number of “important bilateral documents” would also be signed, it added.[1]

The visit comes against the backdrop of Russia's ongoing attack on Ukraine, and one expert told Newsweek the visit makes it “look like China is taking sides.”[2] Beijing has refused to condemn Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, while declaring the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries be respected.[3]

On Monday, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said that the United States has welcomed the developments with caution, as they have been encouraging Chinese President Xi Jinping to communicate with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, both publicly and privately. Sullivan stated that “we believe that China and President Xi himself should hear directly the Ukrainian perspective and not just the Russian perspective on this”.[4]

The Pentagon unveiled footage on Thursday depicting the seconds before a Russian fighter jet collided with an American Reaper drone it had sprayed with jet fuel on Tuesday above the Black Sea.[5] In the declassified footage, an Su-27 Flanker jet can be seen making two dangerously close passes of an un-crewed drone, with the jet spraying fuel in front of the drone – a harassment tactic never before seen by US experts.[6]

On Thursday, the newly-appointed Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang made an uncommon phone call to his Ukrainian counterpart. He expressed his worries that the dispute could potentially become worse and expressed a wish for a political resolution.[5]

In February 2022, China and Russia declared a “no limit partnership” prior to Russia's unprovoked war on Ukraine. China has been a crucial international ally for Russia ever since.[7] Posting on Twitter on Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said: “This will be a trip for friendship and peace. On the basis of no-alliance, no-confrontation and no-targeting of any third party, China and Russia have been promoting greater democracy in international relations.”[8]

According to a statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Qin informed Kuleba that China desires for all parties to remain calm, logical, and self-controlled, and to expeditiously restart negotiations for peace.[3]

0. “China’s Xi to visit Putin in Moscow for first time since Russian invasion of Ukraine” The Hill, 17 Mar. 2023, https://thehill.com/policy/international/3904918-chinas-xi-to-visit-putin-in-moscow-for-first-time-since-russian-invasion-of-ukraine/

1. “China’s Xi Jinping to visit Russia next week, says Kremlin” Al Jazeera English, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/3/17/chinas-xi-jinping-to-visit-russia-next-week-says-kremlin

2. “Xi Jinping goes to Russia to ‘urge peace and promote talks' – Chinese Foreign Ministry” Ukrinform, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.ukrinform.net/rubric-polytics/3683781-xi-jinping-goes-to-russia-to-urge-peace-and-promote-talks-chinese-foreign-ministry.html

3. “Xi will visit Putin in China's biggest show of support for Russia since the war in Ukraine began” Daily Mail, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11871419/Xi-visit-Putin-Chinas-biggest-support-Russia-war-Ukraine-began.html

4. “Chinese President Xi to push for end to Ukraine war in Moscow visit” UPI News, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2023/03/17/president-xi-moscow-visit-urge-peace/7341679040886/

5. “Chinese leader Xi to visit Russia next week for talks with Putin” NBC News, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/china-xi-jinping-state-visit-russia-putin-war-ukraine-rcna75396

6. “Russia-Ukraine war at a glance: what we know on day 387 of the invasion” The Guardian, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/mar/17/russia-ukraine-war-at-a-glance-what-we-know-on-day-387-of-the-invasion

7. “China's Xi Jinping to visit Russia and meet with Putin” Business Insider, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.businessinsider.com/china-xi-jinping-visit-russia-vladimir-putin-ukraine-war-2023-3

8. “Xi Jinping's Trip To Meet Putin Could Spell Trouble for the U.S.” Newsweek, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.newsweek.com/xi-jinping-trip-meet-putin-spell-trouble-us-ukraine-1788461

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