Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin Hold Talks at the Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation
Beijing, October 19, 2023 – On Wednesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin engaged in a high-level meeting during the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) in Beijing. The discussions centered on enhancing cooperation between China and Russia to safeguard global justice and fairness, foster global development, and promote their longstanding partnership. The meeting underscored the robust working relationship and friendship that has developed between the two leaders over the past decade.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, while extending a warm welcome to Putin, described the Russian leader as an “old friend.” Xi emphasized the importance of their frequent meetings, noting that he has met with Putin 42 times since 2013. This remarkable frequency of meetings symbolizes the strength of their relationship and underscores the close ties that China and Russia have cultivated over the years.
One of the highlights of Putin’s visit was his attendance at the Belt and Road Forum for the third consecutive time. This consistent participation is seen as a clear demonstration of Russia’s support for China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Experts have underlined the significance of Putin’s visit in the context of the evolving international landscape and the challenges Russia faces, emphasizing the need for the two nations to bolster coordination at both bilateral and international levels to counter Western attempts at containment and suppression.
In contrast to the confrontational approach pursued by Western powers, China and Russia’s partnership is characterized by open cooperation aimed at mutual benefit, emphasizing peaceful and common development rather than the creation of a formal alliance. In the context of a rapidly changing global landscape, the West’s dominance in power politics has driven many Global South countries to seek solidarity for mutual support.
President Xi reiterated China’s support for Russia’s pursuit of national rejuvenation and its efforts to safeguard national sovereignty, security, and development interests. He encouraged both countries to explore cooperation in strategic emerging industries and promote high-quality development in practical cooperation between China and Russia.
Zhang Hong, an associate research fellow at the Institute of Russian, Eastern European, and Central Asian Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, noted that Russia has displayed a more positive attitude towards strengthening its relations with China in the current international landscape. China-Russia relations have continued to develop, with both leaders sharing similar understandings about bilateral relations and the global geopolitical situation, emphasizing the importance of a secure and stable environment in neighboring regions and a democratic and fair global order.
Xi also highlighted the recent historic expansion of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) countries, which reflects the confidence of developing nations in promoting a multipolar world and democratizing international relations. China expressed its willingness to enhance communication and collaboration with Russia within multilateral frameworks, such as the United Nations, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, and G20, to play a more significant role in ensuring food and energy security and the stability of global industrial and supply chains.
The two leaders engaged in in-depth discussions regarding the situation in Israel and Palestine, underlining their commitment to addressing complex international issues.
In his address to the plenary session of the third BRF, President Putin praised China’s successful implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative, emphasizing Russia’s support for China’s achievements. Russia’s close ties with Central Asia, through the Eurasian Economic Union, have created a strong foundation for its support of the BRI.
Cui Heng, an assistant research fellow from the Center for Russian Studies at East China Normal University, explained that Russia’s support for the BRI is not merely strategic but has also yielded tangible benefits over the past decade. Russia is already reaping dividends from BRI development, underscoring the long-term and mutually beneficial nature of the cooperation.
China expressed its willingness to collaborate with Russia and other member countries of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) to align the BRI with the EAEU, fostering deeper regional cooperation. Xi also highlighted the hope that the China-Mongolia-Russia natural gas pipeline project would make substantial progress soon.
Arkady Korostelev, CEO of the Moscow-based logistics company, the Far Eastern Shipping Company, expressed his satisfaction with the deepening friendship and partnership between the two nations. He emphasized Russia’s strong business ties with China, particularly within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative. Korostelev stated that their primary market is in China and that they look forward to expanding international partnerships under this initiative, including collaboration with numerous Chinese ports.
In addition to pragmatic cooperation in areas such as energy and interconnected projects, China and Russia are jointly addressing broader global issues that impact humanity. These include assisting refugees, addressing global security challenges, and tackling the global development deficit.
As Western powers led by the United States have been reluctant to assume a greater role in maintaining global security and development, emerging nations like China and Russia have taken on more significant responsibilities in these areas, underscoring the evolving dynamics of global politics and the growing influence of non-Western nations. The Xi-Putin meeting at the Belt and Road Forum serves as a clear reaffirmation of their commitment to cooperation and partnership on multiple fronts, reflecting the changing landscape of international relations in the 21st century.