Moscow (CNSNews.com) – Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has described his government’s relationship with Russia as “rock-solid” and indicated that Beijing would continue strengthening its cooperation with Moscow despite Western-led sanctions over Ukraine.
“Over the past year, China and Russia have firmly supported each other in upholding respective core interests, and our political and strategic mutual trust has been further consolidated,” Wang told attendees at a think-tank conference in Beijing on Sunday.
“The China-Russia relationship, which is based on non-alliance, non-confrontation and non-targeting of any third party, remains rock-solid,” he added. “Such a relationship is free from interference or any attempt to sow discord between the two countries, and is immune from changes in the international environment.”
At the same time, the Chinese foreign minister insisted that Beijing had “consistently upheld the fundamental principles of objectivity and impartiality” since the outbreak of the Ukraine conflict earlier this year.
Wang’s remarks come amid a flurry in contacts between Moscow and Beijing. On Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that President Vladimir Putin was scheduled to hold a call with Chinese President Xi Jinping before the end of the year.
Last week, former President Dmitry Medvedev traveled to Beijing to personally deliver a message from Putin to Xi. Medvedev, who currently serves as deputy secretary of Russia’s Security Council, later wrote on his Telegram channel that he also discussed the situation in Ukraine with the Chinese leader.
Russia and China have significantly bolstered their political, economic, and military ties over the past two decades – partially in response to their growing tensions with the West. During the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February, Putin and Xi unveiled a joint statement that declared that the China-Russia relationship was a “no limits partnership.”
When the Kremlin sent troops into Ukraine later that month, China refused to join the West in imposing sanctions against Moscow. Yet Beijing also avoided directly endorsing Moscow’s actions and publicly urged both sides to find a negotiated solution.
During a meeting in Uzbekistan in September, Putin told Xi that Russia understood China’s “questions and concerns” about the Ukraine conflict, but did not elaborate further.
Some major Chinese corporations have also distanced themselves from Russia in recent months in what appears to be an effort to avoid falling under Western secondary sanctions.
Despite these apprehensions, the trade turnover between Russia and China reached a record high of $172.4 billion during the first eleven months of 2022, a 32 percent increase from the same period last year, according to data from China’s custom agency.
Much of the increase came from a significant uptick in Chinese purchases of Russian hydrocarbons and minerals, which have been sanctioned by the West. Chinese automobile and electronics companies also moved in to replace the market share lost by the mass exodus of Western brands from Russia.
The Wall Street Journal reported on December 14 that Xi had instructed Chinese government officials to further expand economic cooperation with Russia next year by importing more Russian goods, pursuing joint energy projects in the Arctic, and investing in Russian infrastructure development.
Russia and China have also continued to hold regular joint military exercises, including a naval drill in the East China Sea last week. The two countries have also flown a joint bomber patrol over the Pacific and conducted a large ground exercise in the Russian Far East in recent months.
In an interview with the Financial Times published last week, U.S. Ambassador to NATO Julianne Smith asserted that Russia and China were “increasingly sharing a toolkit” to undermine the bloc.
“We’ve seen them share hybrid tactics,” she said. “I think China watches very closely how Russia relies on disinformation and things like coercion or energy security, malign or malicious cyber operations.”
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