Thursday, June 1, 2023

Russian PM in China for business forum, talks with President Xi

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has arrived in China on an official visit during which he will meet President Xi Jinping and sign a series of deals on infrastructure and trade.

Mishustin arrived late on Monday in Shanghai, the Russian Foreign Ministry said, where he was greeted at the airport by Moscow’s Ambassador to China Igor Morgulov and Beijing’s top diplomat to Russia Zhang Hanhui.

He will take part in a Russian-Chinese Business Forum and visit a petrochemical research institute in Shanghai, the Kremlin announced, as well as hold talks with “representatives of Russian business circles”.

That forum has invited a number of sanctioned Russian tycoons — including from the key fertiliser, steel and mining sectors — as well as Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak, who handles energy issues, according to Bloomberg News.

China last year became the top energy customer for Russia, whose gas exports had otherwise plummeted after Western countries imposed severe sanctions over Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Mishustin will then travel to Beijing, where he will meet Xi and Premier Li Qiang, Russian state media TASS reported.

China and Russia have, in recent years, ramped up economic cooperation and diplomatic contacts, with their strategic partnership growing closer since Moscow launched its invasion.

While China says it is a neutral party in that war, it has not condemned Russian actions.

In February, Beijing released a 12-point paper calling for a “political settlement” to the conflict, which Western countries said could enable Russia to hold onto much of the territory it has seized in Ukraine.

During a March summit in Moscow, Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an agreement to bring ties into a “new era” of cooperation. Xi also invited Putin, who had days earlier been the target of an International Criminal Court arrest warrant over alleged war crimes in Ukraine, to visit Beijing.

Analysts say China holds the upper hand in the relationship with Russia, and that its sway is growing as Moscow’s international isolation deepens.

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