The Prime Minister of Russia, Mikhail Mishustin, visited China on Tuesday to meet with President Xi Jinping and sign a range of trade deals. The two countries have become increasingly close in recent years, despite China claiming neutrality in Russia’s dispute with Ukraine. Mishustin arrived in Shanghai on Monday to attend the Russia-China Business Forum, which was also attended by Russian businessmen subject to Western sanctions. Mishustin praised economic ties between the two nations, stating that he is confident they will achieve their goal of $200 billion in mutual turnover set by their leaders. China is currently Russia’s largest trading partner, with trade between the two countries reaching a record $190 billion last year.
Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak, in charge of energy policy, also attended the forum in Shanghai. He stated that Russia’s energy supply to China would increase by 40% in 2023 compared to the previous year. Security was tight for the visit, with an increased police presence around the consulate general and the nearby conference center, as well as a heavily guarded luxury hotel. Following Mishustin’s visit to China, he will travel to Beijing to meet with Premier Li Qiang and sign a series of agreements on infrastructure and the economy.
China’s relationship with Russia has been closely watched by Western countries, who have turned to China to use its influence to pressure Russia to stop invading Ukraine. However, China continues to seek further economic cooperation with Russia. When asked for comment on whether relations between Russia and China could upset the West, China’s foreign ministry spokesman Mao Ning stated that their cooperation is “ordinary economic and trade cooperation based on equality and mutual benefit.” He emphasized that China’s influence is growing as isolation deepens. In February, China released a document calling for a “political solution” to the Ukraine conflict, which Western countries said could allow Russia to retain much of its occupied territory.
During a summit in Moscow in March, President Xi invited Putin to visit Beijing, indicating the growing cooperation and friendly relationship between China and Russia.