Leader of NATO member Poland visits China, expecting to talk to Xi about Ukraine

BEIJING — Polish President Andrzej Duda met with Chinese leader Xi Jinping Monday on a visit to Beijing that brought the head of state of a NATO member to a country that has backed Russia in its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

At the meeting at the Great Hall of the People accompanied with a full honor guard and 21-gun salute, Duda told Xi that relations between the former Russian-allied nation, which inspired democratic movements with its push for democracy, and China, which remains under single-party Communist Party rule, remain strong.

The Russia-Ukraine conflict was on the agenda for talks, but no remarks on the issue were delivered before journalists were ushered from the vast carpeted meeting room.

“Over the past 75 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations, bilateral relations have maintained steady development, constantly injecting new vitality into the traditional friendship between the two countries.” Xi said after the two leaders took their seats while surrounded by aides and security guards .

Duda said Poland was hoping for closer commercial relations with China — particularly under Xi’s signature “Belt and Road Initiative” to build transport connections and other infrastructure between China, Europe, Southeast Asia and other regions — largely as a response to overcapacity within China’s huge manufacturing industries, the need to find foreign markets and expand Beijing’s political and economic influence to counter the U.S.-led liberal domestic order.

Poland borders Ukraine and has maintained a hard line against further expansion of Russian aggression, but the grinding conflict has raised questions over how to maintain the country’s economic health and democratic institutions with right-wing political politicians making major gains in this month’s European Parliament election.

Duda had said he would talk to Xi about Russian ally Belarus exerting migration pressure on the border with Poland, as a form of hybrid war that also includes cyberattacks.

Duda is also seeking a visa waiver for Poles traveling to China and is looking for possibilities of increasing Poland’s exports to the country to balance their trade relations.

State Statistics Poland said that 13.9% of the nation’s imports last year were from China, while Polish exports to China were just a fraction of that amount.

Several trade agreements were signed following the meeting between the two leaders, including on Polish agricultural exports and educational exchanges.

Duda has further meetings in Beijing and will fly to the financial hub of Shanghai to attend a Poland-China economic forum.


Monika Scislowska contributed to this report from Warsaw, Poland.

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