Sunday October 20, 2019

RUSSIAN PRESIDENT PUTIN VISITS BEIJING

June 7, 2012

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Beijing on June 5 for a three-day visit to China, during which he met with Chinese President Hu Jintao and attended the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit meeting. The talks between President Putin and President Hu were aimed at strengthening relations between Russia and China, and focused particularly on topics of foreign policy and economic cooperation. Putin described China as Russia’s “strategic partner” and has set enhancing bilateral cooperation between the two countries as a foreign policy priority.

During their meeting, Presidents Putin and Hu pledged to further boost economic ties and set a goal to increase bilateral trade to $100 billion in 2015, from $83.5 billion in 2011. On June 5, China’s sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corporation and its counterpart the Russian Direct Investment Fund signed a memorandum launching a China-Russia Investment Fund with a capital target of $2 to $4 billion USD to raise bilateral direct investment. Russia and China—the world’s largest producer of oil and gas and one of the world’s largest consumers, respectively—have also sought greater strategic cooperation in the energy sector. However, the two sides have been unable to reach an agreement on the export of natural gas from Russia to China through a pipeline from Siberia to China’s Xinjiang province. The proposed deal between the China National Petroleum Corporation and Russia’s Gazprom has been stalled since 2006 in a dispute over pricing, and the two sides were yet to come to an agreement ahead of Putin’s visit.

On the topic of foreign policy, Putin’s visit to Beijing highlighted China and Russia’s coordination on several key issues. Presidents Putin and Hu reaffirmed their opposition to foreign intervention in Syria. China and Russia have blocked resolutions in the UN Security Council that would place sanctions on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, and instead support a peace plan brokered by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to resolve the conflict. China and Russia have come under increasing pressure to support stronger measures condemning the Syrian regime in the UN Security Council, as violence in Syria continues and the success of the peace plan ceasefire is uncertain. The leaders also discussed Iran, and their mutual opposition to further sanctions against the Iranian regime as well as to the proposed American plan for a missile-defense system in Eastern Europe.

The outcomes of the meeting between Putin and Hu reveal a level of strategic understanding between Russia and China. Despite historical differences and a Cold War rivalry, China and Russia tend to vote together in the UN Security Council and have coordinated foreign policy on a number of key issues. Both have voiced support for a so-called “multipolar world order” to replace the current system in which the U.S. is the predominant power with one in which rising powers like the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) have greater influence. Russia and China also agree upon the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of states, which is included in the charter of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

The SCO, whose summit Putin attended during his visit, is a regional security organization that includes China, Russia, and the Central Asian states of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. It aims to promote regional security cooperation, in particular to counter “terrorism, separatism and extremism.” As a multilateral organization that excludes the United States, the SCO has been seen by some Western observers as an effort to counterbalance U.S. influence in the region. During the Beijing summit, SCO members called for a deadline for the removal of U.S. airforce bases in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. They also discussed the future of Afghanistan, whose President Hamid Karzai was allowed to attend the summit this week as an observer.

While Russia and China may both agree upon the importance of stronger bilateral relations and share a common worldview that does not center on the West, some tensions still exist in relations between the two countries. In addition to the stalled gas pipeline deal, arms deals between China and Russia have been hampered by Russian complaints that China is counterfeiting Russian aircraft. Russia is also concerned about Chinese migrants moving across the border into underpopulated Siberia.

 

For more information on Russia-China relations, please see the following news sources:

BBC – “Russia-China unity on Syria as Putin arrives in Beijing

New York Times – “Putin Arrives in China, Seeking Stronger Ties

Washington Post – “Leaders of China, Russia discuss evolving partnership, opposition to Syria intervention

Xinhua – “Russia-China relations at “unprecedented high”: Russian FM

 

For Chinese-language commentary on Putin’s visit to China, please see the following news sources:

Caixin (财新网) – “中俄投资基金全面启动

China News (中新网) -“普京新任期内首次访华 推动中俄关系迈向更高水平

 

Compiled and edited by Amanda Watson.