"The more turbulent the world is, the more important it is for China-Russia relations to move forward steadily," Chinese Ambassador to Russia Zhang Hanhui said in a recent joint interview with Chinese media.
The ambassador said that no matter how the international situation changes, the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era will continue to move forward at a higher level under the strategic guidance of the two heads of state.
Chinese President Xi Jinping will pay a state visit to Russia from March 20 to 22 at the invitation of his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying announced on Friday.
Zhang said the heads of state of China and Russia have maintained close contacts and exchanged views on bilateral cooperation and major international issues, which is the compass and anchor of the development of bilateral relations.
Xi and Putin have reached a series of important strategic consensuses on promoting an upgrade of bilateral relations, maintaining regional security and stability, and building a community with a shared future for mankind, Zhang noted.
Over the past 10 years, the China-Russia relationship has entered a new era, with bilateral cooperation achieving new results, and strategic coordination reaching new levels, he said.
The ambassador stressed that facing multiple challenges such as the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic, the complex evolution of the international situation and a weak global economic recovery, China-Russia economic and trade cooperation has withstood the pressure and continued to advance.
In 2022, bilateral trade between China and Russia hit a record-high of $190.27 billion, Zhang noted, adding that energy trade has played an even more pivotal role in bilateral trade, while China's exports of mechanical and electrical products, automobiles and auto parts to Russia have all seen substantial growth.
The proportion of settlements in local currencies continued to grow, with Russian banks carrying out extensive RMB business, he said.
Noting the ever-deepening sub-national cooperation between the two countries, Zhang said local institutions and enterprises from both sides have actively participated in the China International Import Expo, the Canton Fair, the Eastern Economic Forum and the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, further synergizing cooperation requirements and fully unleashing cooperation potential.
The Heihe-Blagoveshchensk cross-border highway bridge, the Tongjiang-Nizhneleninskoye cross-border railway bridge and other boundary river bridges have opened to the traffic one after another, and cross-border logistics and transport channels have been further expanded, he said.
Following China's optimization and adjustment of epidemic prevention measures, customs clearance at ports of the two countries has gradually returned to the pre-pandemic mode, effectively ensuring the smooth flow of personnel and goods between the two sides, he said.
"In the first two months of this year, bilateral trade sustained strong growth momentum, reaching $33.69 billion, up 25.9 percent year on year, which was a good start," Zhang said. "It demonstrates again that the foundation of bilateral economic and trade cooperation remains solid."
As neighboring countries, China and Russia enjoy strong political mutual trust, high economic complementarity and great cooperation potential, he said, adding that more Russian companies have shown strong willingness to cooperate with the Chinese side.
"We believe that the China-Russia trade will reach new heights in 2023, and we strive to achieve the trade target of $200 billion by the end of this year set by the two heads of state," he said.
Zhang also noted that people-to-people cooperation has played an important role throughout the history of the development of China-Russia relations.
In 2022, the Xi and Putin officially launched the China-Russia Years of Sports Exchanges at the Beijing Winter Olympics, and jointly called for opposing the politicization of sports, which was of extraordinary significance, he said.
Noting that this year marks the 10th anniversary of the proposals for a community with a shared future for mankind and the Belt and Road Initiative, Zhang said that Russia has become China's important partner in Belt and Road cooperation, and the two countries have joined hands in building a community with a shared future for mankind, while the internal momentum and special value of bilateral cooperation have become more evident.
"In the past 10 years, the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era has withstood the test of the volatile international landscape, and has become increasingly mature and tenacious," Zhang said.
The two countries have successfully blazed a path of mutual strategic trust and neighborly friendship between major countries, he said, adding that the China-Russia relationship is not targeted at any third party, nor will it be disturbed or even threatened by any third party.
"President Xi's state visit to Russia is a milestone for China-Russia relations in the new era. It will inject a strong impetus into bilateral relations, and push forward bilateral relations to continuously develop at a high level," he added.
(With input from Xinhua)
(Cover: A file photo of Chinese Ambassador to Russia Zhang Hanhui. /Chinese Foreign Minstry)