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Putin tells Xi that Russia is ‘a bit envious’ of China’s economic development


Nov 4, 2011
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Putin tells Xi that Russia is ‘a bit envious’ of China’s economic development​

  • Russian and Chinese leaders hold informal talks at the Kremlin, kicking off Xi’s three-day state visit to Moscow
  • Putin says China’s market mechanisms and a ‘fairly confident political course’ have reaped ‘visible results’

Published: 3:00pm, 21 Mar, 2023


Chinese President Xi Jinping meets Russian leader Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin on Monday. Photo: dpa

Russian President Vladimir Putin told Chinese leader Xi Jinping that Russia envied China’s economic development during an informal meeting on Monday, at the start of Xi’s three-day state visit to Moscow.

“In recent years, China has made a colossal leap forward in its development,” Putin said, according to a transcript from the Kremlin. “It has been the object of sincere interest around the entire world, and we are even a bit envious of you.”

Putin is one of the few world leaders to have stayed in power long enough to witness China’s economic rise up close. He became president in 2000, when former Chinese president Jiang Zemin was in power and before China joined the World Trade Organization. Putin has remained either Russian president or prime minister since.

Russia is increasingly reliant on China economically. China’s exports to Russia rose 20 per cent in January-February compared to the same period in 2022, reaching US$15 billion, while its exports to other markets fell, according to Chinese customs data. Both countries are also seeking to expand trade between Russia’s Far East and China’s faltering industrial base in the northeast.

“China has established a fairly effective system of economic development and strengthened the country. It’s much more effective compared to many other countries in the world. It’s an obvious fact,” Putin said.

China’s combination of market mechanisms and a “fairly confident political course” reaped “visible results”, Russian state news agency Tass quoted Putin as saying. He also said Beijing would achieve its goals under Xi’s leadership.

In an article published in the Russian government newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta on Monday, Xi said the modernisation of China would bring new opportunities for development to all countries, including Russia.

While Beijing described ties with Moscow as being at a “historic high” and Xi and Putin signed a pledge of friendship without limits just before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, analysts have said the countries’ interests – which do not entirely align – still dictate how they handle the relationship.

In the informal meeting at the Kremlin, the leaders also exchanged views on the Ukraine war, with Putin praising China for its “fair and balanced position on most pressing international problems”.

Chinese state media reports of the meeting have played up discussion of bilateral ties, while parts related to the Ukraine war largely reiterated past statements from Beijing and Moscow.

Although China has yet to provide lethal arms to Russia for its war in Ukraine, Chinese state media has repeated Moscow’s narrative and Chinese companies have undercut Western sanctions by buying Russia’s discounted oil.

Chinese officials have also publicly met Russian officials more frequently than Ukrainian ones since the war began in February 2022. Analysts have said that Beijing maintained “pro-Russia neutrality”.

The Russian leader also said he would talk to Xi about Beijing’s 12-point position paper that describes peace talks as the “only viable solution” to end the Ukraine war. The credibility of the paper, published on the conflict’s first anniversary, was dismissed by European and US officials who said Beijing had already demonstrated its support for Russia.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has criticised Xi for providing “diplomatic cover” for Putin days after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for the Russian leader for war crimes on Friday.

Xi told Putin that China was willing to play a role aimed at promoting a “political settlement of the Ukraine issue”.

Xi and Putin will hold formal talks on Tuesday to discuss bilateral ties, the Ukraine war and other matters described by the leaders to be of common concern.


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