- Special Pages
BEIJING: China’s new president will pay a state visit to Russia and three African countries, the foreign minister said yesterday, with Beijing looking to step up diplomacy after a protracted leadership transition.
Chinese Foreign minister Yang Jiechi said the visit would take place “soon” and that Tanzania, South Africa and the Republic of Congo would comprise the African destinations.
Communist Party leader Xi Jinping is due to be named state president during China’s annual National People’s Congress (NPC) parliament session under way in Beijing, which will conclude the country’s once-a-decade leadership transition.
Xi took over the ruling party’s reins in November.
Yang did not provide exact dates for the visit, but the legislature wraps up on March 17 and a summit of BRICS nations — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — that the president will attend in South Africa starts on March 26.
The choice for the new president’s first overseas visit appears to combine respect for China’s historical ties with Russia, with which it shares a long border, and Beijing’s increasingly prominent role in Africa.
“China and Russia are each other’s biggest neighbours,” Yang said.
“We want to work with the Russian side to seize the opportunity... to inject new and strong impetus to the growth of the comprehensive strategic partnership.”
Russia and China stand together on several global diplomatic issues, including the two-year conflict in Syria, where the two permanent UN Security Council members have blocked resolutions that would have introduced sanctions against Bashar Al Assad’s regime.