Russian President Vladimir Putin kicks off his China visit today, the last stop of his first official visit since reelection as president, though widely seen as the most important stop. He will also attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit.
Sino-Russian relations are believed to be the core issue of Putin's China visit. Few doubt this relationship will be developed further during Putin's six-year rule.
China's rise and Russia's recovery have both been suppressed by the West, resulting in the two nations moving closer to each other. Under the current global strategic structure, the strategic cooperative partnership between the two countries has reasons to improve even if Beijing and Moscow don't actively seek to do so.
In addition, they share many fundamental strategic interests. The policy extension mechanism of both countries ensures that strategic cooperation has been moving ahead smoothly. Nor have leadership changes altered the upward trend of bilateral ties, unusual for two independent major powers.
China and Russia are not allies, but they have formed a special coordination on issues such as Iran and Syria. There will be more such coordination in the future. This diplomatic action is also being increasingly predicted by the international community.
The two are more open in supporting and depending on each other. This is the correct strategy to take. Previously, both were worried that too much intimacy may negatively influence their relationship with the West. But the reality is that as they are getting closer, the West can ignore neither of them.
The China-Russia strategic cooperative partnership can be built into one of the pillars of international relations. With their growth, the two nations can prevent the uni-polarization of the global order and call for the end of Western-dominated world politics.
To further their ties, the next step is to promote each other among the elites and everyday people, though both are difficult jobs. Beside the West's influence over public opinion in the two countries, at the grass-roots level, there is no normal mechanism for solving the rising conflicts between China and Russia. A deep-rooted sense of uncertainty toward each other also haunts both countries.
But these obstacles can be removed. A mature relationship means more than cooperative programs. It needs to be able to weather specific conflicts. The importance of both needs to be accepted by ordinary people from the two countries.
Putin is the key figure in cementing the China-Russia strategic cooperative partnership and his visit this time may bring great significance for this partnership.