China’s Xi says ties with Russia became stronger in 2023

Russian President Vladimir Putin and China’s President Xi Jinping make a toast during a reception following their talks at the Kremlin in Moscow on 21 March, 2023AFP

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday said the foundation of Sino-Russian ties had grown stronger in 2023, as he exchanged New Year greetings with his counterpart Vladimir Putin, state media reported.

Beijing and Moscow are staunch allies and have strengthened their relationship even as Western countries have turned their backs on Russia over its military invasion of neighbouring Ukraine.

Both sides have also made much of the personal relationship between the two leaders, and Xi has referred to Putin as his “good friend”.

Xi said that “the material and public opinion foundation of our relationship has become stronger” in his recap of the year to Putin on Sunday, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

“In the face of changes unseen in a century and a turbulent regional and international situation, China-Russia relations have maintained healthy and stable development and moved steadily in the right direction,” Xi said.

“Under our joint leadership, political mutual trust between the two sides has further deepened, strategic coordination has drawn closer, and mutually beneficial cooperation has continued to achieve new results,” the Chinese leader was quoted as saying.

Xi noted that the volume of bilateral trade exceeded $200 billion ahead of schedule, and said Beijing was looking forward to marking the 75th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral ties in 2024.

During a visit to Beijing by Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin this month, Xi said maintaining close ties with Moscow was a “strategic choice”.