China should consolidate its ties with Russia and Central Asian countries amid simmering territorial disputes with its eastern and southern neighbours, a political adviser says.
Xi Jinping, who will become president next week, will make his first visit as head of state to Russia this month.
He will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin and the two countries will continue talks on a massive natural gas deal.
Vice-Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping said on the sidelines of a CPPCC panel meeting on Wednesday that the two nations would consolidate their strategic partnership.
He said this was essential for the interests of developing countries. "The two countries can work together to promote a fair international order, opposing other nations from spreading unilateralism," he said.
But Cheng did not say whether the two nations would sign a final deal on plans to send Russian natural gas to China.
The two governments have reached an in-principle agreement, but differences over pricing remain to be settled. Wan Jifei , a CPPCC delegate and chairman of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, said territorial disputes in the South and East China seas had complicated China's relations with Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam.
He said China needed to develop stronger ties with countries to its west, which could supply energy to China. "When we step up China's economic development, we have to co-operate with other countries," Wan said.
"Countries in Central Asia and Russia can be stable partners for China." He said China had advantages in developing ties with those countries.
"After the break-up of the Soviet Union, some of these countries turned to Western nations for economic development," he said. "But in the end, their economies are still poor, prompting them to look at China for their own development."
Yu Hongjun, deputy director of the Communist Party's international department, said some of China's efforts to improve ties with other countries had been damaged by poor public diplomacy.
One example he gave was songs praising the former Soviet Union being sung at cultural performances in Central Asian countries after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
"The positive results gained by the visits of our leaders are sometimes damaged," he said.