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Russia, China sign economic deals despite Western criticism

Published May 24, 2023last updated May 24, 2023

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and other officials during a visit to Beijing. China is Russia's biggest trading partner.

Mikhail Mishustin shaking hands with Xi Jinping
China and Russia pledged to support each other's 'core interests'Image: Huang Jingwen/Xinhua News Agency/picture alliance

Russia and China have signed a number of economic agreements amid Western criticism over the ties between the two nations as the war in Ukraine drags on.

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin visited China where he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping as well as Premier Li Qiang on Wednesday.

Xi told Mishustin that China and Russia would continue to offer each other "firm support on issues concerning each other's core interests and strengthen collaboration in multilateral arenas."

He added that the two countries should "push cooperation in various fields to a higher level" and "raise the level of economic, trade and investment cooperation."

During an earlier meeting with Li, Mishustin said that "relations between Russia and China are at an unprecedented high level."

"They are characterized by mutual respect of each other's interests, the desire to jointly respond to challenges, which is associated with increased turbulence in the international arena and the pattern of sensational pressure from the collective West," he added.

What did the leaders sign?

The two leaders signed several memorandums of understanding, including a pact to boost investment cooperation in trade services, an agreement on export of agricultural products to China, and a deal on sports cooperation.

Beijing is Moscow's largest trading partner. According to Chinese customs data, bilateral trade reached a record $190 billion (€176 billion) last year.

Will China rescue Russia's economy?

On Wednesday, Li pointed out that trade between the two countries has already reached $70 billion this year.

"This is a year-on-year increase of more than 40%," the premier said.

"The scale of investment between the two countries is also continuously upgrading," he said. "Strategic large-scale projects are steadily advancing."

China has brushed aside attempts by the West to link its partnership with Russia to the war in Ukraine and has stressed that ties between Moscow and Beijing are not in violation of international norms.

"China is willing to work with Russia to implement the joint cooperation between the two countries, and promoting pragmatic cooperation in various fields can take it to a new level," Li told the Russian prime minister.

zc, dvv/nm (AFP, Reuters)