A senior member of a leading national think tank says President Xi Jinping's visit to Russia demonstrates that there is cultural affinity between the two nations, and that their cooperation goes beyond the basis of mutual interest.
Speaking on RTHK's Backchat programe on Thursday, a day after Xi ended his three-day visit to the Russian capital, Lau Siu-kai, a consultant to the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, said that the Sino-Russian partnership is comprehensive and strategic given that both countries are experiencing pressures from the United States and the west.
“Whenever the US is trying to contain China, and the containment seems to be increasingly serious, and that is why China is to open up more essential space for its development," Lau said. "The increasing relationship with Russia is, of course, one of the efforts devoted for that purpose."
“Also China is growing more opportunities in the Middle East and in South East Asia, so all these efforts on the part of China are to make sure that China can still develop in spite of the increasing hostility from the United States.”
Lau also said that the two countries’ trust would only strengthen given that they complement each other economically. While Russia depends on China for its manufacturing and large consumer market, China needs Russia's energy supply and agriculture.
Asked for his view on how China sees the conflict in Ukraine, Lau said that Beijing does not want war, and is keen on hearing from both sides before conducting any more peace talks.
“China seems to be taking a more essential point of view as to why the war takes place. China does not use the word ‘war’ at all, China uses the word ‘crisis’," he said, adding that Beijing takes a very broad perspective and "sees the war being caused by a lot of structural and social factors, and not simply because of actions given by Russia".
Meanwhile a senior fellow at another Beijing-based think tank described Xi's visit as a success, given that the nation's leader gave assurances to Russia's Vladimir Putin that Beijing would continue to provide economic co-operation.
Einar Tangen from the Taihe Institute told RTHK's Hong Kong Today programme that the signing of economic partnerships was a way to release pressure on Moscow. He also said a deficit trust had so far made it difficult to restore peace to Ukraine.
"The visit was a success in that it's given Russia assurances that it won't be isolated by the US," he said. "China will pursue a foreign policy that's guided by its global security, global development and global civilisation initiatives, which stress that there has to be respect between countries and the security of one country cannot be based on the insecurity of other countries."
Labelling the International Criminal Court's issuing of an arrest warrant for Putin last week as "a PR move", Tangen said that China had a role to play in creating the conditions for a negotiated peace in Ukraine.
"The kind of diplomacy China is trying to pursue is based on multi-polarity," he said. "You try to bring people to the table, but it's up to them to come to terms. The more parties you have, the better for everyone. Now there is a trust deficit. China is trying to restore trust in the process."
Releasing pressure through economic co-operation would be key to avoiding this, he said.
"The trade agreements reached in Moscow were extremely wide-ranging. They will probably reach a US$200 billion equivalent in trade. The amount of raw materials coming from Russia will be strengthened, and there's also developmental and manufacturing aid that will be going into Russia. This takes a lot of pressure off Russia."
Last updated: 2023-03-23 HKT 11:44