Russia-China: Fostering warm relations

Monday, 2018-06-11 11:49:57
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Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping. (Photo: Reuters)
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NDO – Russian President Vladimir Putin recently concluded a state visit to China at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping, as he attended a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). Putin’s visit to neighbouring China, as well as the fine words on their bilateral ties raised by the two countries’ leaders during the talks, show that the Russia-China relations continues to remain warm.

Addressing their talks following an official welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, President Putin and President Xi agreed to maintain the friendship and cooperation between Russia and China, while expanding and deepening their bilateral cooperation across various spheres, and elevating the Russia-China relations to new heights. President Putin hailed the cooperation attained by the two sides as being of an unprecedented level of steadiness, stating that fostering stable cooperation with China is one of Russia’s important priorities.

Meanwhile, the Chinese leaders also made similar assessments of the Sino-Russian relations. President Xi Jinping said that boosting Sino-Russian ties has always been a leading priority of both countries. In addition, the two sides have also been actively engaged in global issues and governance. During his meeting with President Putin, Chinese PM Li Keqiang announced that Beijing is ready to develop its cooperation with Russia in traditional fields, as well as in certain other new spheres, especially nuclear energy. According to the Chinese cabinet leader, two-way trade between China and Russia could possibly reach US$100 billion this year. The two sides have already completed the set tasks and can elevate their economic and trade cooperation to a new level.

The Russian leader’s China visit and the aforementioned statements demonstrate that the two neighbouring powers are continuing to cultivate a warm relationship in their bilateral ties. In fact, the “honeymoon” in Russia-China relations began in 2014 after Russia suffered repeatedly heavy sanctions from the United States and Western countries. In the successive years later, the Russian economy unceasingly plummeted and reported negative growth. In that difficult context, the “turn to the East” emerged as one of the most important solutions to help Russia to escape from being under siege and isolation.

As for China, recently, the China-US trade disputes are likely to break out into a trade war, and are escalating the tensions between the two sides. So, it is quite comprehensible that China and Russia are moving closer to each other. Furthermore, Russia is an important energy provider and a key partner in the implementation of the “Belt and Road” cooperation initiative launched by China in late 2013.

Over the past few years, Russia and China have been working quite actively together in the areas of cooperation, covering economics, politics, foreign affairs and security. The two sides have supported each other in international affairs, while frequently reaching a common voice in security issues, such as the Korean Peninsula situation, the Syrian crisis, and the Iranian nuclear deal. Meanwhile, both have registered positive results in bilateral economic cooperation, especially in the fields of finance, energy and trade. So far, Russia and China have expanded their direct payments by using the domestic currency of the two countries. The Russian banks have issued credit in the Chinese yuan, while establishing the Russia-Chinese investment fund worth CNY68 billion (US$10 billion). Bilateral trade revenue reached US$84 billion last year.

Economic contracts worth hundreds of billions of dollars have been signed and implemented, including the agreement that Russia’s national gas group, Gazprom, provides China with 38 billion cubic metres of gas annually for 30 years, at an estimated value of US$400 billion.

The aforementioned reality shows that the relations between Russia and China have been continuously strengthened and developed in recent years. Together with the two countries coming closer together in the face of pressure from the US and Western nations, President Putin and President Xi are focusing on fostering bilateral ties and have met at least five times annually over the past few years, providing opportunities for the Russia-China relations to thrive. Analysts said that in the context that the two Presidents have been reelected, the visit to China made by President Putin is of great significance, creating a motivation to develop and further the warmth in Russia-China ties.