Hosting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the first high level Russian official to visit Beijing after the Ukraine war, China on Wednesday said "cooperation" between the two allies has no "ceiling" to resist "hegemony".
Lavrov arrived in Tunxi, east China's Anhui Province, for the third meeting of foreign ministers of the neighbouring countries of Afghanistan, Russia’s official news agency Tass reported on Wednesday.
"There is no ceiling for China-Russia cooperation, no ceiling for us to strive for peace, no ceiling for us to safeguard security and no ceiling for us to oppose hegemony," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a media briefing here when asked to describe the limits of China-Russia relations.
Commenting on the most recent round of negotiations between Russia and Ukraine in Turkey’s Istanbul, Wang Wenbin noted "positive signals" demonstrated by both parties.
"We have always believed that a dialogue and negotiations are the only correct way to achieve the settlement of the Ukrainian crisis," he said.
Asked by a reporter from Russia’s official Tass news agency whether China as the permanent member of the UN Security Council can be a guarantor for any agreement between Russia and Ukraine, Wang Wenbin said China encourages all sides for peaceful resolution of the crisis.
"We support all diplomatic efforts towards that end," he said.
Later, Lavrov in his meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Russia is interested in building relations with China in a stable and consistent manner.
"We are interested in our relations with China developing steadily and consistently, our leaders - President of Russia Vladimir Putin and President of China Xi Jinping agreed upon this. Today, as you have said, we will consider concrete steps to ensure that all those agreements are consistently implemented," the top Russian diplomat stated.
Putin and Xi met here in February on the sidelines of the opening of the Beijing Winter Olympic Games where they firmed up their strategic alliance against the US and its alliance.
"I am very pleased to talk to you, dear friend, especially in another beautiful province. I have already visited many provinces of China, and all of them are truly exquisite," Lavrov told Wang Yi as they met in Tunxi, Tass reported.
Wang Yi told Lavrov that China-Russia ties have stood the new test of a changing international landscape and the relationship has maintained its correct direction and shown strong resilience.
"Both sides have a firmer will to develop bilateral relations, and stronger confidence to advance cooperation in various areas," Wang said.
China is willing to work with Russia to push the relationship to a higher level in the new era, guided by the important consensus between the two heads of state, Wang said, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Lavrov informed the Chinese side of the Russia-Ukraine talks, saying Russia is committed to easing the tensions, continuing peace talks with Ukraine, and maintaining communication with the international community.
Noting that the Ukraine issue has a complicated history, Wang said China supports Russia and Ukraine in overcoming difficulties to continue their peace talks, supports the positive outcomes achieved in the negotiations so far, and supports the deescalation of the tensions as soon as possible and the efforts of Russia and other parties to avoid a large-scale humanitarian crisis.
From a long-term perspective, lessons should be taken from the Ukraine crisis, and all parties' legitimate security concerns should be responded to on the basis of mutual respect and indivisible security, he said.
He called for establishing a balanced, effective and sustainable European security structure through dialogue and negotiation in order to realise lasting peace in Europe.
The two sides also exchanged views on other multilateral affairs such as the Asia-Pacific situation and the BRICS mechanism.
While the purpose of Lavrov's visit to China is to take part in the meeting on the Foreign Ministers of the neighbouring countries on Afghanistan, significance is attached to his visit as Beijing, a close ally of Moscow, has backed Russia's war on Ukraine even though it walked a fine-line calling for peaceful resolution while highlighting Russia's security concerns relating to NATO expansion.
This is the first visit by a top Russian official to China after Moscow launched a war on Ukraine on February 24.
Significantly, the US Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns will be attending the troika meeting of the special envoys of China, Russia and the US of Afghanistan being held on the sidelines.
It is not clear yet whether Burns will be meeting Lavrov.
The troika meeting will be held on the sidelines of the third meeting of the foreign ministers of Afghanistan's neighbouring countries being held on Wednesday and Thursday.
Wang Yi will chair the meeting to be attended by the foreign ministers of Pakistan, Iran, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan or their representatives.