Chinese President Xi Jinping will continue his visit to Moscow on Tuesday (March 21, 2023) and will meet with Russian President Putin again. Xi Jinping began a three-day state visit to Russia on Monday, allowing Putin to show the world he has a strong ally in the face of Western condemnation of his war in Ukraine. Washington criticized Xi’s visit, saying Beijing was providing “diplomatic cover” for Russia to commit more crimes.
Xi Jinping and Putin called each other “dear friends” when they met in the Kremlin on Monday. During the talks, Putin told Xi Jinping that he believed that China had established a set of “efficient systems for developing the economy and strengthening the country”, and said: “In recent years, China has made great leaps in development, which has aroused great interest from all over the world. We even have a little I envy you.” Putin also mentioned that he respects China’s proposal to resolve the conflict in Ukraine.
Xi Jinping praised Putin’s Russia’s great progress in prosperity and development, and predicted that Russians will support him again as president next year. According to the Russian state-run news agency TASS (TASS), the two met for four and a half hours on Monday, and then, Xi Jinping attended a Kremlin dinner to continue exchanges with Putin.
Russian state media said that Xi Jinping first held talks with Russian Prime Minister Mishustin on Tuesday, during which he invited Putin and Mishustin to visit China.
It is expected that one of the highlights of the talks between Xi Jinping and Putin on Tuesday will be the “Ukraine peace plan” proposed by China. The White House had previously expressed concern that Beijing’s proposal for a ceasefire in the Ukraine war meant Ukraine would accept Russian occupation of its territory.
It was Xi’s first foreign trip since winning an unprecedented third term in office earlier this month. He has been trying to paint Beijing as a potential “envoy of peace” for Ukraine, even as he deepens economic ties with close ally Russia.
For months, Moscow has been publicly promoting Xi’s planned visit. But the timing gave new meaning to Xi’s support for Putin after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant on Monday accusing Putin of abducting Ukrainian children for war crimes.
“President Xi’s trip to Russia, days after the ICC issued an arrest warrant for President Putin, shows that China does not hold the Kremlin responsible for the atrocities committed in Ukraine,” said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. “Instead of condemning them, it is better to provide diplomatic cover for Russia to continue to commit these grave crimes,” Blinken said.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Xi should use his influence to pressure Putin to withdraw troops from Ukraine. And Washington fears that Beijing may instead demand a ceasefire that would allow Russian troops to stay.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Monday: “The International Criminal Court should uphold an objective and impartial stance, respect the jurisdictional immunity enjoyed by the head of state in accordance with international law, exercise its functions and powers prudently in accordance with the law, interpret and apply international law in good faith, and avoid politicization and double standards.”