China-Russia Ties

Hu's Russia visit ushers in a new era of co-op

Updated: 2011-06-18 17:48
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BEIJING -- Chinese President Hu Jintao's just-concluded visit to Russia is the latest in a decade-long effort that has established a new era of cooperation between the two neighboring world powers.

The state visit, from June 15 to 18, is his fifth since 2003, and continues a process of closer ties between the two countries at all levels since they signed the landmark China-Russia Treaty of Good-Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation in July 2001.

Hu's Russia visit ushers in a new era of co-op
Visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao (L) shakes hands with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev after they signed a joint statement on international situation and major international issues in Moscow, capital of Russia, June 16, 2011.[Photo/Xinhua]

Over the past decade, bilateral cooperation has borne rich fruit in many fields, fostering peace and prosperity in the two countries and for the world at large.

Hu's latest visit, on the 10th anniversary of the treaty, is believed to further promote bilateral cooperation and charter a course for future development of bilateral ties.

Mutual political trust

The 25-article good-neighborly treaty stresses a new type of state-to-state relationship, which neither seeks alliance, confrontation nor targets against any third country.

Recalling the treaty, President Hu said Thursday the new security concept it contains served as an excellent example of a new type of bilateral relations.

"The treaty is an important landmark in the development of China-Russia relations. At the same time, it has blazed a trail in international relations," he said.

Over the past decade, China and Russia have made eye-catching progress in boosting their political trust.

Frequent high-level exchanges have demonstrated the steady and healthy development of bilateral relations.

In addition to his five state visits, Hu headed to Russia in 2005 and 2010 for the 60th and 65th anniversaries of Victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945.

Last year alone, Hu and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev held six bilateral meetings and reached important agreements on further deepening the bilateral strategic partnership of cooperation.

In 2004, China and Russia inked an additional treaty over their eastern border, putting an end to 40 years of negotiations and making their 4,300-km-long border a symbol of good-neighborly relations and harmonious coexistence.

The two sides have also established mechanisms for regular meetings between their leaders and cooperation mechanisms between various government departments, and signed more than 200 cooperative documents to help improve the mechanisms and legal basis of bilateral ties.

Chinese Ambassador to Russia Li Hui, in a recent interview with Xinhua, said China-Russia ties were becoming a model for bilateral relations of the world's big powers.

Mikhail Titarenko, head of the Far East Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told Xinhua Hu was a longtime close friend of Russia, and his visit definitely would encourage more joint efforts in both political issues and economic projects.

"The prospects for Russian-Chinese cooperation are really great," Titarenko said.

Pragmatic cooperation

Economically, cooperation has benefited both sides.

Two-way trade has increased sevenfold from some $8 billion in 2000 to nearly $60 billion in 2010.

Hu, during a meeting with Medvedev Thursday, said the two sides should work to further boost bilateral trade and set targets of 100 billion dollars a year by 2015 and 200 billion by 2020.

Medvedev, for his part, said the Russian side was fully satisfied with the development of bilateral relations over the past decade.

He specifically hailed the rapid development in bilateral economic and trade cooperation.

The two sides have carried out a number of large-scale cooperative projects in areas such as energy, infrastructure, and science and technology.

These include a China-Russia oil pipeline project linking Russia's Far East and northeast China, which began operation on January 1. It runs smoothly and had delivered more than 6 million tons of crude oil from Russia to China by the end of May.

The 1,000-km-long pipeline will transport 15 million tons of oil annually from Russia to China from 2011 to 2030.

The two countries are now negotiating another two long-term gas projects. The projects, with a "west line" capable of supplying China with 30 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year and an "east line" of 38 billion cubic meters, would both be 30-year deals.

Culturally, China and Russia have actively learned about each other and deepened the friendship between the two peoples.

China hosted the "Year of Russia" in 2006 and "Year of Russian Language" in 2009, while Russia held the "Year of China" in 2007 and "Year of Chinese Language" in 2010. These activities increased the two peoples' understanding of each other.

People-to-people exchanges have witnessed robust development, with more than 3 million Chinese and Russians currently visiting each other's country every year.

China and Russia are also to stage s "Year of Tourism" to deepen bilateral exchanges.

Influential duet on world stage

China, as Asia's biggest country, has a land area of 9.6 million square km and a 1.34-billion population, while Russia is the biggest country in Euroasia, with a formidable 17 million square km and a population of 142 million.

Their friendly cooperation, without doubt, is of vital importance for peace and prosperity both in Eurasia and beyond.

China and Russia, both of which are UN Security Council permanent members, are heavyweights on the world platform and have cooperated effectively at the UN.

The two countries have maintained similar stances and substantially supported each other on a variety of hot and thorny international issues.

They also have cooperated effectively in other regional or international frameworks, such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), BRICS and the Group of 20.

"These new organizations will help Russia and China, together with other countries, maintain stable development, not only of our own countries, but also of the whole mankind," Igor Rogachev, a member of the Federation Council, Russia's upper house of parliament, and a former ambassador to China, told Xinhua.

Moreover, Russia has firmly adhered to the one-China policy and recognized Taiwan as an inalienable part of China, while China has staunchly supported Russia's crackdown on Chechen separatists.

China-Russia cooperation is tremendously conducive to building a multipolar world and a fairer international order, and benefits world peace and stability.

Alexander Lukin, director of the Center for East Asia and SCO Studies at Moscow State University for International Relations, wrote in an article titled "Russia and Rising China" that, "both Russia and China are unwilling to see the world as dominated by a super power. Instead, they think the world should have many poles, which will cooperate with each other according to international laws and under the guidance of the UN Charter."

"They also dislike other countries bossing them around over their domestic policies, and deem the actions as intervention in their internal affairs," he said.

On Thursday, China and Russia issued a joint statement on a broad range of key international issues.

They expressed their common stances on a variety of international issues, including bilateral cooperation at the UN and the G20, global nuclear and security issues, Asia-Pacific regional cooperation, the Korean Peninsula and Iranian nuclear issues, and unrest in West Asia and North Africa.

They vowed to make concerted efforts to effectively cope with various global challenges and threats.

Common Challenges

The two neighbors now are also confronted with a variety of similar daunting challenges, such as a widening wealth gap, corruption, poverty, unemployment, and environmental pollution, among others.

Some Western countries are skeptical of the two emerging powers' intentions, employing labels such as "China Threat Theory, " "Russian Authoritarianism" and other appalling rhetoric. They have even attempted to deter their development.

Therefore, bilateral cooperation is of significant importance to the two neighbors for their sustainable development, for which stable external circumstances are crucial as they push forward their modernization drives.

During his meeting with Medvedev Thursday, Hu said the next decade would be a critical period for the two countries for their respective development and for deepening their partnership.

He said China was ready to work with Russia to develop a comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership featuring equality, mutual trust, mutual support, common prosperity and lasting friendship in the new decade.

Hu also stressed China would unswervingly pursue the road of peaceful development and work for the establishment of a harmonious world of long-term peace and common prosperity.

Rogachev said, "We have taken an important step forward in strengthening the principle of 'Russia and China are friends forever and will never become enemies'."

Leaders and peoples of the two countries have agreed to follow this positive practice and find new themes for cooperation, he said.