Russia, South Africa on Xi’s global travel plans

  • Jane Perlez, Beijing
  • |
  • Updated: Feb 22, 2013 02:01 IST

The Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, has selected Moscow as his first foreign visit as president, to be followed immediately by a trip to South Africa for a summit of the group of leading emerging market countries.

Xi’s predecessor, Hu Jintao, also chose Moscow as his first overseas stop after assuming office, but this time, Xi’s journey to Russia has a special significance, analysts say, coming as China tries to answer the Obama administration’s pivot to Asia. That American policy is viewed with suspicion in Beijing and is broadly interpreted unfavorably by the Chinese government as containment of China.

By going to Russia, Xi will be working to ensure that China’s relationship with Moscow, a sometimes prickly affair and one in which the balance of power has dramatically tilted in favor of China, is in good shape before he meets with President Obama later in the year, analysts said.

There have also been indications that Xi and Putin would try to hammer out a long-sought energy deal that would provide China with Russian oil and gas.“China wants to consolidate its position with Russia before dealing with the United States,” said Jin Canrong, associate dean at the School of International Studies at Renmin University.  In particular, he said, China will likely look for Russian support in its territorial dispute with Japan, an American ally, over islands in the East China Sea.

Chinese state-run media reported this week that Xi would visit Russia on the way to the meeting of the leaders of the so-called BRICS nations in Durban, South Africa, on March 26-27. BRICS is the acronym for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. NYT


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