China’s Foreign Ministry~, announced Friday that Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin will travel to Beijing for discussions next week. This will be the latest exchange in a relationship where China is increasingly being relied upon by Russia for diplomatic and economic help. At a daily briefing, ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin stated that “during the visit, the two sides will have an in-depth exchange of views on practical cooperation in bilateral relations and issues of common concern.” Wang continued, “We look forward to significantly deepening people-to-people and local exchanges, as well as infusing strong impetus into the revival of the global economy.
The days of Mishustin’s visit are Tuesday and Wednesday. Meanwhile, Geng Shuang, China’s deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, once more denounced Western weaponry supplies to Ukraine, claiming that they will simply escalate the situation, result in more civilian losses and displacement, and make it more difficult to achieve a truce and begin peace talks.
At a Security Council meeting on Thursday, Geng reaffirmed China’s position that it does not and will not arm either side in the Ukraine crisis. “The constant feeding of weapons to the battlefield will… also pose serious challenges to post-war reconstruction and, if such weapons are diverted to terrorists or armed groups, likely cause new turmoil in a wider geographic area,” Geng was quoted as saying on the U.N. website. “All parties should urgently and sincerely urge a political settlement and establish conditions favorable to a ceasefire,” Geng stressed.
China claims to be a neutral party and wishes to assist in mediating an end to the 15-month conflict, but it has refrained from criticizing the invasion and has attributed Moscow’s provocations on the West. China is now regarded as the more senior partner in the relationship, enabling Moscow avoid UN condemnation while maintaining what it terms “normal trade” with Russia, giving the country a market for its manufactured goods as well as other resources like oil.
Beijing is also expanding its influence in what has historically been Russia’s strategic backyard by hosting a summit of five former Soviet Central Asian countries this week. Earlier this week, during negotiations in Kyiv, China’s special envoy met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other government representatives.
The meeting came after the Ukrainian president and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, had a phone conversation last month that Zelenskyy characterized as “long and meaningful” and was the two men’s first known interaction since the start of the Russian invasion. In February, Beijing announced a peace offer, but Ukraine’s allies mostly rejected it and insisted that Russian President Vladimir Putin remove his troops. In his own 10-point peace proposal, Zelenskyy calls for the establishment of a court to try Russian war criminals.
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