Ukraine official makes first senior visit to China since before Russian invasion

By Martin Quin Pollard

(Reuters) – Ukraine’s deputy economy minister held talks with China’s vice commerce minister in Beijing on Thursday in the first high-level visit by a Ukraine government official to the country, which has a “no limits” partnership with Moscow, since 2019.

The meeting between Ukraine’ Taras Kachka and China’s Ling Ji took place on Thursday morning Beijing time, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters.

China’s Consulate General building in Odesa was damaged in a Russian attack on the city late on Wednesday night Kyiv time, according to a Telegram post from the governor of Odesa sent out on Thursday afternoon Beijing time.

It was unclear if the Odesa attack took place before or after the officials met in Beijing.

Ling said China is willing to expand imports of quality products from Ukraine and work with Ukraine to actively develop mutually beneficial bilateral economic and trade cooperation between the two countries, according to a Chinese commerce ministry readout of the meeting published on Thursday afternoon Beijing time.

China is willing to “establish cooperative relations between the investment promotion agencies of the two countries, and continuously expand the space for trade and investment cooperation,” Ling added, according to the readout.

Ukraine hopes to expand the export of agricultural products to China, Kachka said, according to the Chinese commerce ministry.

“The Ukrainian side will step up efforts to protect the safety of Chinese-funded enterprises in Ukraine,” Kachka said.

“We are willing to work together with China to promote the healthy and sustainable development of economic and trade relations between the two countries.”

Kachka arrived in Beijing on Wednesday and is due to leave on Friday, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters. The previous high level visit by a senior Ukraine official to China was in 2019, according to a list of such visits on the Ukraine embasssy’s official website.

The visit follows the arrival of the new Ukraine ambassador and former Ukraine Minister for Strategic Industries Pavlo Riabikin, who began his posting last month, filling a position that had been vacant since his predecessor died in February 2021.

It also follows Russia’s decision on Monday to pull out of a UN-backed grain export deal.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping declared a “no limits” partnership in February 2022, just days before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

(Reporting by Martin Quin Pollard, Bernard Orr and Qiaoyi Li in Beijing; Editing by Himani Sarkar, William Maclean)