On his way to Moscow, the Chinese president tries to portray Beijing as a peacemaker after more than a year of war.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is due to arrive in Moscow for talks later on Monday, has called for a “rational way out” of the Ukraine crisis, but has admitted that reaching a solution will not be easy.
Writing in the Russian newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta, a daily newspaper published by the Russian government, Xi said 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 effects of the crisis and advancing a political settlement,” Xi wrote, according to a translation of the article by Reuters. “Complex problems don’t have simple solutions.”
Xi added that the paper reflected the views of the global community “as much as possible”.
Xi’s visit to Moscow is his first since Putin sent Russian troops to Ukraine in February 2022, with Beijing setting itself up as a neutral party even after reaffirming its close ties with its northern neighbour. The Chinese president will be the first world leader to meet Putin since the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant against him last week.
The Chinese and Russian presidents met shortly before Putin sent his troops to Ukraine, pledging a partnership without borders. It is not clear whether Xi was aware of Russia’s plan to invade Ukraine, a close trading partner of Beijing.
Xi has tried to present China as a global peacemaker, arguing that a way out of the crisis could be found “if everyone is guided by the concept of common, comprehensive, joint and sustainable security, and continues dialogue and consultation in an equal, prudent and pragmatic way”.
Putin welcomes China’s willingness to play a “constructive role” in ending the conflict in Ukraine and has “high hopes” for Monday’s talks with Xi.
“We have no doubt that they will give a new strong impetus to the whole bilateral cooperation,” Putin wrote in an article written for a Chinese newspaper and published by the Kremlin on Sunday.
He said Sino-Russian relations were “at their peak.”
China has not condemned the war in Ukraine or called it an invasion, although it has criticized the international sanctions imposed on Russia and some of its most prominent political and military figures.
Xi may also have telephone conversations with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy after his visit to Moscow, according to reports.
Zelenskyy gave qualified support to the peace plan when it was released in February, pointing out the need to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
Foreign Minister Qin Gang held a rare phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba last week to push for a political solution, saying China was concerned that the war could spiral out of control. Qin urged Ukraine to seek a political solution with Moscow.
China, he told Kuleba, had “always taken an objective and fair position on the Ukraine issue”.
In turn, Kuleba reiterated the importance of territorial integrity and the key points of Zelenskyy’s peace plan, including the restoration of Ukraine’s borders, the withdrawal of the Russian army and the cessation of all fighting.
In the Rossiiskaya Gazeta, Xi said his trip to Russia aims at strengthening the friendship between the two countries, “a comprehensive partnership and strategic interaction”, in a world threatened by “acts of hegemony, despotism and bullying”.
“There is no universal model of government and no world order in which the deciding word belongs to a single country,” Xi wrote. “Global solidarity and peace without divisions and upheavals is in the common interest of all humanity.”