By Ryan Woo
BEIJING (Reuters) – China on Tuesday called for increased cross-border connectivity with Russia and deeper mutual cooperation on trade and investment, as the two allies pledged to strengthen economic ties despite disapproval of the West after Russian forces invaded Ukraine last year.
Russia’s economic development minister held “in-depth” discussions on economic cooperation with China’s commerce minister in Beijing on Tuesday, coinciding with a trip by China’s top diplomat Wang Yi to Moscow for strategic talks that led to the confirmation Russian agreements. President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Beijing next month.
Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao said during discussions in Beijing that China-Russia economic and trade cooperation has continued to deepen and become more “solid” under the “strategic leadership” of the two heads of state. , according to a press release from his ministry.
As the war in Ukraine enters its second year and Russia is under Western sanctions, Moscow relies on its ally Beijing for economic support, feeding off Chinese demand for oil, gas as well as grain. .
Beijing has rejected Western criticism of its growing partnership with Moscow in light of Russia’s war in Ukraine. He insists that these ties do not flout international standards and that China has the prerogative to collaborate with the country of its choice.
On Tuesday, Group of Seven ministers reiterated their call, without naming countries, for third parties to “cease all assistance to Russia’s war of aggression or face high costs.”
The Russian Far East, bordering China and North Korea, has acquired new strategic importance as a zone of cross-border trade and commerce.
Last week, Russia’s United Oil- and Gas-Chemical Co. and China’s Xuan Yuan Industrial Development agreed to build an oil transshipment complex near a railway bridge connecting the Russian city of Nizhneleninskoye and the Chinese city of Tongjiang, as Moscow diversifies its exports of raw materials outside Europe. which he now considers politically “hostile”.
Chinese state media also claims there is a growing “need” for China and Russia to step up grain trade amid persistent global shortages. The construction of a grain corridor linking Russia to Heilongjiang, the breadbasket of northeast China, will help strengthen China’s food security.
Earlier in September, Chinese President Xi Jinping said Heilongjiang should become an “essential” gateway for China’s opening up to the north, saying the province should play an active role in safeguarding defense national, food and energy security.
(Reporting by Ryan Woo; editing by Alex Richardson and Timothy Gardner)