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Does China plan to discuss the Ukraine peace initiative during Putin's visit to China?

According to the WeChat public account "Chinese Embassy in Russia", on May 7, 2024, Chinese Ambassador to Russia Zhang Hanhui accepted a written interview with the "Russia Today" news agency on issues such as China-Russia high-level exchanges, economic and trade cooperation, the Ukraine crisis, and the China-Russia Cultural Year.

The full text of the interview is as follows:

1. China looks forward to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to China within this year. There are reports that Putin's visit to China may be his first overseas visit after his re-election. What is China's comment on this? In what areas are the two sides planning to sign cooperation agreements during the visit?

In March last year, President Xi Jinping chose Russia as the country for his first visit after being re-elected as President of the country, which fully demonstrated the high level and particularity of the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination in the new era. Heads of State diplomacy is the fundamental guarantee for the stability and long-term development of China-Russia relations. The two heads of state agreed to continue to maintain close exchanges and have in-depth exchanges on China-Russia relations and strategic issues of common concern. President Putin is President Xi Jinping and an old friend of the Chinese people. China welcomes President Putin to pay a state visit to China after taking office.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Russia. The two sides will take the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations and the hosting of the China-Russia Cultural Year as an opportunity to fully implement the consensus reached by the two heads of state, strengthen the alignment of the two countries' development plans, and promote practical cooperation in various fields. As major countries with world influence, China and Russia shoulder important responsibilities for human development and progress. China is willing to work with Russia to strengthen multilateral strategic collaboration in the BRICS, Shanghai Cooperation Organization and other countries, promote the reform of the global governance system, and effectively lead the construction of a community with a shared future for mankind.

2. The two countries achieved the set target of bilateral trade volume ahead of schedule last year. Do the two sides plan to set new targets for bilateral trade volume this year? What is the amount?

The two sides have not formally discussed the issue.

3. There is news that China will import oil from Iran. Will Russia’s oil supply to China be reduced as a result? Does China intend to increase oil imports from Russia? What is the increment?

Russia has been China's main source of crude oil imports for many years. In 2023, China will import 107 million tons of Russian crude oil, a year-on-year increase of 24%. From January to March this year, China imported 28.53 million tons of crude oil from Russia, a year-on-year increase of 12.9%. In March, it was close to the highest monthly record in history. From the perspective of market demand, China-Russia energy cooperation has broad prospects. It is believed that with the joint efforts of both parties, China-Russia crude oil trade will continue to maintain healthy and stable development in the future. In the face of fluctuations in the global energy market, China has always made positive contributions to maintaining global energy security. At the same time, China has always opposed unilateral sanctions, and China's normal energy trade will not be interfered by third parties.

4. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov successfully visited China a few days ago. When do Russia and China plan to launch a new round of dialogue on Eurasian security issues? Which countries in the region will participate in this dialogue? Will the dialogue be conducted within the framework of existing multilateral platforms such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, or will a new dialogue platform be established?

Currently, the world is undergoing profound changes unseen in a century with unprecedented intensity, and the international situation is undergoing turbulent changes. Hotspot issues such as the Ukraine crisis and conflicts in the Middle East have emerged one after another, terrorist threats and terrorist attacks have broken out at multiple points, and unilateralism and power politics have impacted the international governance system. The Eurasian continent where China and Russia are located has more uncertain and unstable factors than before.

Two years ago, President Xi Jinping proposed a global security initiative, advocating a new security path of dialogue rather than confrontation, partnership rather than alliance, win-win rather than zero-sum, and providing a Chinese solution to the global security dilemma. Over the past two years, China has upheld the concept of building a community with a shared future for mankind, comprehensively implemented global security initiatives, actively promoted bilateral and multilateral security exchanges and cooperation, improved the global security governance system, explored long-term ways to achieve sustainable security, and become an important force in maintaining world peace and stability. . The common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security concept proposed by China has been widely praised by the international community, including Russia. As permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, China and Russia work closely together on the international stage to jointly defend true multilateralism, which is conducive to maintaining Eurasian security and global strategic stability. China is willing to continue to work with Russia to strengthen strategic coordination, join hands in implementing global security initiatives, jointly defend international fairness and justice, and make new contributions to maintaining international and regional security and stability.

5. Russia highly appreciates China’s peace initiative in Ukraine. Does China plan to discuss this issue during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to China or other high-level meetings? What measures does China believe should be taken first to implement the peace initiative?

It has been more than two years since the crisis in Ukraine escalated, and the war continues to drag on. The most urgent thing now is to restore peace. On the Ukrainian issue, China has always upheld an objective and fair stance, always stood on the side of peace and dialogue, and actively promoted peace and talks. President Xi Jinping has successively put forward the "four shoulds", "four commons" and "three points of thinking", which have become China's fundamental guideline for the political settlement of the Ukrainian crisis. All along, adhering to these principles and positions, China has been in in-depth communication with all parties, including Russia and Ukraine, and the international community, playing a constructive role in responding to crises, promoting peace and promoting talks. Not long ago, China carried out the second round of shuttle diplomacy and had in-depth exchanges with Russia, Ukraine and relevant European countries on how to achieve an early ceasefire and end the war and promote a political settlement of the crisis. All parties appreciate China's efforts and fair stance in shuttle mediation, look forward to China playing a greater constructive role, and unanimously agree that China, as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, can mediate and convey information between Russia and Ukraine and other parties, and promote all parties. Seek common ground while reserving differences and build consensus to accumulate more favorable conditions for holding peace talks.

Under the current situation, in order to prevent the conflict from spiraling or even spiraling out of control, all parties should work together to restore peace at an early date. China supports the timely convening of an international peace conference recognized by both Russia and Ukraine, with equal participation by all parties, and fair discussion of all peace plans. China is willing to continue to play its unique role and contribute Chinese wisdom and strength to promote a political settlement of the Ukrainian crisis.

6. What is the risk that the trade volume between China and Russia will drop significantly at the end of the year due to restrictions on bank settlement? Is there a solution for this problem?

U.S. sanctions have caused certain problems in the trade settlement between China and Russia. The two sides are currently actively negotiating and striving to find an effective solution as soon as possible.

7. How are the cooperation negotiations between China and Russia on the wide-body passenger aircraft project progressing? What are the current prospects for cooperation between the two countries in this field?

China attaches great importance to cooperation in the aviation field between the two countries and is willing to actively promote relevant project cooperation with Russia.

8. What is the progress of the negotiations on the "Power of Siberia 2" natural gas pipeline project?

How likely is it that the two sides will agree on natural gas prices in the near future?

For a project as large as the "Power of Siberia 2" pipeline, gas price is not the only determining factor. Rigorous, scientific, and systematic preliminary research and demonstration are essential. Enterprises from both sides are actively negotiating on a series of issues such as project technology, business, and cooperation models. China has always advocated the upstream and downstream integration model, which will not only help extend single trade to full industry chain cooperation, drive exchanges and mutual learning between the two sides in more fields, but also promote the establishment of longer-term, more stable and closer cooperation between the two sides, and share China's super-large Dividends from scale markets. It is expected that both parties will open up their minds, explore a mutually beneficial and win-win cooperation model, and realize the project as soon as possible.

9. Are there any statistical data showing how much China’s automobile exports to Russia increased in the first quarter of 2024 compared with the same period in 2023? In addition to producing Chinese cars at the former Mercedes-Benz factory outside Moscow, does China plan to establish a new production base in Russia?

In 2023, the trade volume between China and Russia will reach a record high of 240.11 billion U.S. dollars. Among them, China exported about 900,000 complete vehicles to Russia. Since the beginning of this year, China-Russia trade has continued to maintain a good momentum of development. In the first quarter, the trade volume in goods reached US$56.68 billion, a year-on-year increase of 5.2%. China's exports of complete vehicles to Russia have grown steadily. Chinese brand cars have the advantages of high quality and high cost performance, and are increasingly favored by Russian consumers. The Embassy in Russia is willing to continue to support the two countries’ car companies in exploring cooperation based on commercial principles.

10. The two heads of state attach great importance to the development of tourism. Is it possible for China and Russia to sign a mutual visa-free travel agreement like China and Georgia (Rugia)?

China and Russia are connected by mountains and rivers, and are each other's important tourist source countries and tourist destinations. The development of tourism cooperation plays an important role in driving the development of related fields between the two countries and consolidating the social public opinion foundation for the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination in the new era. Since 2023, Russia has been included in the first list of 20 pilot countries for Chinese citizens to travel abroad in groups. China and Russia's mutual visa exemption policy for group travel is also in normal operation, and tourists from the two countries are enthusiastic about visiting each other. According to Chinese statistics, the number of Russian tourists to China in 2023 reached 997,900. According to Russian statistics, the number of Chinese tourists to Russia during the same period was 477,000, ranking first among all countries in Russia's inbound tourism. In addition, the tourism authorities of China and Russia have maintained close communication and good interaction under bilateral and multilateral cooperation mechanisms. This year, institutional meetings such as the Tourism Cooperation Subcommittee of the China-Russia Humanities Cooperation Committee and the BRICS Tourism Ministers’ Meeting will be held in Russia. held. I believe that with the continuous improvement of the top-level design of the two countries in the field of tourism cooperation, the implementation of various favorable policies and the continuous improvement of infrastructure conditions, China-Russia tourism cooperation will surely usher in greater development.

11. The two heads of state declared 2024-2025 as the China-Russia Cultural Year. This is a rare opportunity for Russians to understand Chinese culture. What events are there for Russians to look forward to and participate in?

The leaders of China and Russia have always attached great importance to promoting cooperation in the field of people-to-people and cultural exchanges. Last October, when President Putin went to China to participate in the third "Belt and Road" International Cooperation Summit Forum, he and President Xi Jinping jointly announced that the China-Russia Cultural Year would be held in 2024-2025. China and Russia are both great cultural countries with excellent cultural traditions and profound cultural accumulation. Under the strategic guidance of the two heads of state, exchanges and cooperation in the cultural field between China and Russia have developed smoothly and become an indispensable and important part of the relations between the two countries. The cultural departments of China and Russia have planned hundreds of colorful exchange activities within the framework of this cultural year, involving cultural relics exhibitions, film screenings, stage art performances, youth cultural and creative exchanges, exchanges of Chinese and Russian writers, etc. In addition, the Chinese Cultural Center in Moscow, as an important window to showcase Chinese culture to the Russian people, has and will hold various Chinese cultural experience activities. I believe that these activities will further enhance the people-to-people ties between China and Russia and push the cooperation between the two countries in the humanities field to a new level!

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