Russia sees expansion of ties with China undoubted diplomatic priority

Xinhua — May 19, 2014

Pacific fleet warships head for Shanghai for Russian-Chinese drills commencing May 20, 2014. Click to enlarge

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country’s cooperation with China has reached its all-time best and that the two sides were ready to expand ties in numerous spheres.

“China is our reliable friend. To expand cooperation with China is undoubtedly Russia’s diplomatic priority,” Putin told Chinese reporters before attending the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) slated for Tuesday and Wednesday in Shanghai.

Putin, who will also pay a state visit to China on the sidelines of the summit, said he and Chinese President Xi Jinping will review the implementation of already-signed agreements, and hammer out future objectives.

“I believe the upcoming talks will inject strong impetus to various bilateral cooperation projects, as well as to the deepening of coordination between the two countries in the international arena,” he said.

Putin pointed out that at the present stage the two countries should give priority to enhancing cooperation in economy, science and high technology.

Against the backdrop of global economic turbulence, it was of crucial significance for the two countries to strengthen mutually beneficial economic and trade relations and boost mutual investment, he said.

China is currently Russia’s largest trading partner, with the trade volume between the two countries nearing $90 billion in 2013. The two countries aim to raise the trade volume to 100 billion dollars in 2015 and to 200 billion dollars in 2020.

On energy cooperation, Putin said preparation for agreements concerning Russia’s natural gas export to China has entered the final phase.

“For Russia, implementing these agreements means diversifying gas supply destinations, while for our Chinese partners … it could be a remedy for energy shortage and helps ecological security,” he said.

Moscow and Beijing have also been cooperating closely to reduce trade reliance on the external market, Putin said, adding the two sides were now implementing 40 major projects worth 20 billion dollars.

In addition, he said, Russia and China were working on ways to expand settlement in local currencies in a bid to protect bilateral trade from exchange fluctuations of major foreign currencies.

On the cooperation in Russia’s Far East, Putin voiced hope that Chinese enterprises take the lead in investing in that vast region, which will give specified preferential policies to investors.

Humanitarian cooperation between Russia and China, he said, has been progressing in the right direction, and the bilateral National Years, Language Years, Tourism Years as well as the ongoing Youth Years have substantially contributed to the unprecedented bilateral ties.

“The young generation of the two countries have become increasingly interested in each other’s history, culture and customs,” Putin said. “That’s an objective process, and we will give full support to such process.”

The Russian president said the two countries planned to boost investment cooperation as the scale of bilateral investment cooperation was obviously inconsistent with the two sides’ real capabilities and demands.

“We are more than clear that the two countries have more potentials to tap and more room to improve,” he said, adding that they boasted plentiful promising areas, such as machinery manufacturing, agricultural product processing, mining and transportation and energy infrastructure.

Speaking of 2015 when Russia and China will jointly celebrate the 70th anniversary of the defeat of the Nazis, Putin said that the two countries are unanimous in opposing attempts to distort the World War II record.

Those attempts are unacceptable and the consequence is hazardous, he said.

“Next year, we will organize a series of events to jointly celebrate the 70th anniversary of victory in both bilateral form and within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, ” he said, adding the two sides would focus on engaging the young people into the activities.

Russia and China, Putin noted, have also been actively advocating the creation of a new security and sustainable development framework in the Asia-Pacific region, which is based on such principles as equality, abiding by international laws, non- use or non-threatening use of violence.

“Nowadays, that issue has become increasingly urgent,” he said, adding the forthcoming summit of the CICA, an efficient cooperation mechanism, will facilitate its resolution.