He is expected to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and reaffirm the two nations’ partnership.
Wang may speak with Putin about scheduling a visit to Russia by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
BEIJING (Xinhua) — Wang Yi, China’s top diplomat, has arrived in Moscow, where he is expected to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and reaffirm the two nations’ partnership in the midst of increased tensions with the United States.
Wang may speak with Putin about scheduling a visit to Russia by Chinese President Xi Jinping, citing persons familiar with the plans. According to the sources, the travel to Moscow would be part of Beijing’s drive for multiparty peace negotiations aimed at ending the crisis in Ukraine.
Wang’s visit underscores Beijing’s sustained support for Moscow, coming only days before the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and in the aftermath of Washington’s downing of a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon.
He is anticipated to emphasize the importance of greater economic cooperation between China and Russia. Bilateral trade increased by almost 30% to $190.3 billion in 2022, marking a new high. China has increased semiconductor exports and purchased more inexpensive Russian oil, helping to bolster an economy ravaged by the war effort.
The visit also appears to be meant to provide China diplomatic influence with the United States, since President Joe Biden is under pressure to obtain results in Ukraine before next year’s presidential election.
According to a Chinese government insider, a Chinese military think tank recently simulated the condition of the Ukraine conflict and concluded that it will likely approach its last phase this summer, with Russian forces holding the advantage. According to a Chinese military source, with the fighting in Ukraine still not going in Washington’s favor, the US is scrambling to urge China to participate.
According to this logic, the closer China gets to Russia, the more likely it is to push the US to cave.
The Biden administration recently softened its stance on the balloon incident. Washington has also raised alarm about China sending lethal weapons to Russia, particularly during a Saturday meeting between Wang and Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Munich.
“We do not accept the United States’ finger-pointing or even coercion aimed at China-Russia relations,” Beijing stated in a meeting readout.
For the first time since November 2019, China and Russia are conducting joint military exercises with South Africa. The 10-day drills, which began on Friday and will last until the anniversary of the invasion, appear to be a message to Washington.
China’s Silence on Russia’s invitations
For all these gestures, however, Beijing does not want to be perceived as completely aligned with Moscow. China so far has remained silent about Russia’s invitations for Xi to visit and is expected to gauge how the U.S. likely would react before deciding whether to play that card.
China is anticipated to submit a position paper advocating a resolution to the Ukraine conflict soon, putting some gap between itself and Russia. The text is expected to emphasize Beijing’s opposition to nuclear weapons and attacks on nuclear power plants, as well as its demands for peace talks.
In a meeting with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Munich on Saturday, Wang emphasized Beijing’s support for such talks.
China is allegedly mulling measures to help restore Ukraine’s economy following the war, partly to repair its tattered image in the West, and partly to improve its relationship with Kyiv.
“Ukraine is valuable because it doesn’t criticize China over human rights issues,” a Chinese government insider said.
It’s unclear whether this will work. Russia has welcomed China as its own clout has dwindled, and Beijing would find it difficult to dissolve those relations. If the Ukraine peace proposal remains abstract without proposing tangible initiatives, it may raise doubts about China’s commitment to Western countries.
While Biden visits Ukraine, China’s top diplomat heads to Moscow
Top Chinese diplomat Wang Yi visits Moscow. Chinese Foreign Ministry said, stay...