Wang meets Lavrov in China, hails ties as tough test of changing international situation

China Russia Photo: VCG

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Tunxi, east China’s Anhui Province on Wednesday, stressing continued efforts to enhance strategic partnership, amid the Ukraine crisis and other ongoing crises such as Afghanistan that have been overshadowed as a result.

The in-person Wang-Lavrov meeting was held on the sidelines of the third meeting of foreign ministers of countries neighboring Afghanistan, chaired by Wang. The foreign ministers of Pakistan, Iran, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan or their representatives are attending the meeting from Wednesday to Thursday, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

The face-to-face meeting is the first between Wang and Lavrov since the start of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine on Feb. 24. It comes as the United States and some Western countries highlight Beijing’s “dilemma” of whether to walk away from Moscow over Ukraine or face condemnation and potential sanctions from Washington.

However, Chinese experts said China’s position is always consistent and balanced when it comes to relations with Russia and the United States. The development of Beijing-Moscow relations is not due to a bloc mentality but to an internal basis of mutual benefit.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a press briefing on Wednesday that China and Russia are always committed to developing bilateral relations based on the principles of non-alliance, non-confrontation and non-targeting of any third country.

The spokesperson hailed the deepening ties as “no limits to Sino-Russian cooperation, no limits to our pursuit of peace and maintenance of security, and no limits to our opposition to hegemony.”

China and Russia will continue to practice genuine multilateralism and promote a multipolar world and democracy in international relations, the spokesperson said.

According to Russian media TASS, the meeting between the two foreign ministers took place in an “atmosphere traditionally based on trust and friendship”, and a number of issues were discussed, including the current situation in Afghanistan. , the Iranian nuclear program and the Korean peninsula.

Citing a Russian statement, TASS said the pair agreed that Russia and China will continue to strengthen their strategic partnership and further enhance foreign policy coordination, strengthen cooperation on the bilateral track as well as in various multilateral formats. .

Wang pointed out that China-Russia relations have withstood new tests by changes in the international situation, maintained the good direction, and demonstrated a solid development trend.

The two sides’ desire to develop bilateral relations has become even stronger, as has the trust to promote cooperation in various directions, Wang said.

Lavrov said Russia stands ready to work with China to continuously strengthen high-level strategic coordination and deepen mutually beneficial cooperation in all fields, and oppose hegemonism.

Analysts said that although the United States and some Western countries are trying to use the Ukraine crisis to drive a wedge between China and Russia, the attitudes described at the latest ministers’ meeting indicate that the strong relationship between the China and Russia are unlikely to be weakened by the United States and the West, or by external events such as the Ukrainian crisis.

Constructive role

Just a day before the Wang-Lavrov meeting, Russian negotiators said on Tuesday that Russia would scale back operations near the Ukrainian capital Kyiv and the northern city of Chernihiv following “substantial” peace talks in Istanbul, which took place. described as “the most significant progress”. far.

According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s statement, Lavrov briefed the Chinese side on the progress of the peace talks, saying Russia is committed to lowering tension and will continue to hold peace talks with the Chinese side. Ukraine and to maintain communication with the international community.

Wang said China supports Russia’s and Ukraine’s efforts to overcome difficulties and pursue peace talks, supports de-escalation of the situation as soon as possible, and supports Russia’s and other countries’ efforts. other parties to prevent a large-scale humanitarian crisis.

Cui Heng, an assistant researcher at the Center for Russian Studies at East China Normal University, told the Global Times on Wednesday that China had in fact played a constructive role in promoting the peace talks, which were not widely held. covered in the West.

Chinese diplomats have been talking to their Russian and Ukrainian counterparts since the escalation of the Ukraine crisis, encouraging them to sit down and talk about a peaceful solution, while opposing the fanning of flames and sanctions immoderate actions of the West against Moscow, added Cui.

The United Nations General Assembly voted on March 2 to condemn Russia for its military operation, with China abstaining. While sowing discord between China and Russia, some Western media have vilified China’s peace efforts because of the abstention vote.

Despite speculation in the West that China faces a risk of secondary sanctions because of its ties to Russia, experts said China and Russia will not reduce their existing cooperation because of the risk of sanctions, this which will not help the United States achieve its strategic goals, as the sanctions are bound to create divisions in the Western world and will also backfire.

China and Russia strengthen their relations not because China wants to confront the West, but because cooperation and business between neighbors bring substantial benefits to both sides, which is the essence and basis of their relations. , Mr. Cui said.

“China and Russia do not target any third parties. The China-Russia bond should not be interpreted by the West as political support, but as a bond based on development needs,” he said. added.

There have been frequent meetings and communications between the Chinese and Russian foreign ministers in 2022. The two had a phone conversation on Feb. 24 when they exchanged views on the Ukraine issue.

Wang met Lavrov in Beijing on February 3. On January 10, the couple had a phone conversation. Analysts said it highlights the close coordination and mutual trust between China and Russia on major issues, as well as the maturity and stability of bilateral relations.

Since the Wang-Lavrov meeting took place on the sidelines of a ministerial conference on Afghanistan, Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations at China Foreign Affairs University, believes that cooperation between China and Russia on Afghanistan is bound to make progress.

Ensuring that reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan are on the right track and that the Ukrainian crisis ends are two key objectives of the current diplomatic coordination between Russia and China, both of which are substantive measures that do not may be covered up by Western libels, Li said.

Although an expanded meeting of the China-US-Russia consultation mechanism on the Afghan issue is also scheduled, analysts said Lavrov’s attendance at the Afghanistan conference shows that the way in which related issues are handled to Afghanistan is changing and becoming dominated by countries in the region with relevant interests.

Neighboring countries and Afghanistan are part of a community with a shared future, Cui said, “Afghanistan’s stability is directly related to the security and stability of its neighbors, so these countries have a great sense responsibilities and are ready to invest in it. ”

For now, the United States has largely taken a “disposable approach” in Afghanistan, which means there is not much room for cooperation between China, the United States and Russia. So in the future, Afghanistan’s reconstruction will depend on cooperation between China, Russia, Iran and other countries in the region, Cui said.

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