Russian PM arrives in China for business forum, talks with Xi
China’s deepening economic and political relationship with Russia has not been derailed by Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin is in China for a visit in which he will meet President Xi Jinping and sign a series of deals on infrastructure and trade.
Mishustin arrived late on Monday in Shanghai 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 said, 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.
Li said the country is willing to further expand economic and trade exchanges with Russia, state media reported on Tuesday.
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.
Mishustin said Russia hoped to sell more agricultural products to China.
“Russian agriculturalists are ready to significantly expand the export of their production to the Chinese market and broaden the range of plant and animal products supplied,” Mishustin said, adding for
this to happen, however, barriers would have to be dismantled.
Mishustin also talked about closer ties with China in the high-tech industry, according to TASS.
A Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman backed Russia on Tuesday, condemning what she called “unilateral sanctions” that are based neither on international law nor on a UN Security Council mandate.
Cooperation between China and Russia is not directed against other states, she said.
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 its sway is growing as Moscow’s international isolation deepens.