MOSCOW Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived here on Friday for his first trip abroad after his swearing in, using talks with his counterpart Vladimir V. Putin to promote deeper cooperation with Russia.
XI’s choice of Moscow as his first foreign capital visit is being seen by analysts as a symbolic move that demonstrates the increasing interdependence of the one-time Cold War foes.
From energy deals, trade and geo-politics, China and Russia have been in close -step over a range of thorny international issues such as Syria, Iran and North Korea.
A key element of the talks will be how to steer the future of the increasingly intertwined economies. Trade between Moscow and Beijing grew 11.6% to a record $88.1 billion in 2012, according to figures from the China Institute of International Relations.
Xi’s visit to the Kremlin, eight days after his installation as president, sent a clear message that China can turn to its own sources of support, to partially counterbalance the United States when necessary.
“China will make developing relations with Russia a priority in its foreign policy orientation,” he said in a written statement issued upon his arrival in Moscow, reported Xinhua news agency.
Xi told Putin that the two governments should “resolutely support each other in efforts to protect national sovereignty, security and development interests”.
Xi in turn talked about Russia and China as good friends who treat each other “with open souls.”
Putin, in an interview with the Itar-Tass News Agency timed to coincide with the visit, stressed the countries’ shared role on the United Nations Security Council.
“That is why the strategic partnership between us is of great importance on both a bilateral and global scale,” said Putin, adding that Russia-China relations were at an all-time high. “Today the Russian-Chinese relations are on the rise, they are the best in their centuries-long history. They are characterized by a high degree of mutual trust, respect for each other’s interests, support in vital issues. They are a true partnership.
“The fact that the new Chinese leader makes his first foreign trip to our country confirms the special nature of strategic partnership between Russia and China,” Putin added.
While China and Russia already form a powerful bloc on the U.N. Security Council, the warmer ties are also evidence of their perceived need to countervail a U.S.-led dominance in global affairs.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov expressed confidence that the visit will add significantly to bolstering bilateral relations that have turned into a special strategic partnership over the past few years.
According to Ryabkov, Russia and China play an important role in BRICS, urging their partners Brazil, India and South Africa to achieve ‘ambitious aims’.
The diplomat voiced hope that Xi Jinping’s visit to Moscow will underscore Beijing’s push for further expanding bilateral cooperation.
Former Chinese ambassador to Russia Liu Guchang said in an interview that Chinese leaders choose Russia for their first international visit, while Russian leaders choose China “has already become a tradition,” the Chinese diplomat added. “This shows how important the Russian-Chinese relations are.”
Liu Guchang said that the most important goals of Xi Jinping’s current visit to Russia were “developing practical cooperation between Russia and China” as well as “consulting with the Russia side on the urgent issue of the Korean Peninsula and other international and regional problems.”