Xi visits Russia as China seeks bigger global role
BEIJING (AP) - Mr Xi Jinping heads to Russia on March 22 on his first foreign visit as president amid signs that he wants China to be more assertive in challenging United States leadership in Asia while looking for new energy sources to fuel the Chinese economy.
Since Mr Xi became China's leader late last year, the country has notched up its feud with Japan over a set of disputed islands believed to sit atop petroleum reserves, while also contending with the US and other Western powers at the United Nations over the conflict in Syria, Iran's nuclear programme and the growing belligerence of nominal ally North Korea.
"I think that, clearly, under Xi, China is starting to move away from the defensive philosophy. As it grows into its role as a major power, we can expect China to be even more assertive," said Dr Warren Sun, a Chinese politics expert at Australia's Monash University.
Mr Xi, who became Communist Party chief in November and was formally named president last week, will visit Moscow to highlight trade ties and discuss Russian gas exports.