China, Russia eye next step in ties

By Liu Sha Source:Global Times Published: 2013-3-25 0:53:01


Chinese President <a href=Xi Jinping (L) meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin, in Moscow, capital of Russia, March 22, 2013. (Xinhua/Huang Jingwen)  " src="">
Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin, in Moscow, capital of Russia, March 22, 2013. (Xinhua/Huang Jingwen) 


China and Russia should enhance economic ties and press for deeper cooperation at a higher level, Evgeny Tomikhin, minister counselor at the Russian embassy in Beijing, told the Global Times in an exclusive interview.

Tomikhin noted the two countries had successfully developed relations over the past two decades, largely due to common goals in the Sino-Russian strategic partnership.

"We both do not have any criticisms of each other, and there is no doubt over our attitudes toward each other's development modes or willingness to cooperate," he said.

Chinese President Xi Jinping chose Russia to be his first foreign country to visit as leader, following his pledge to make further development of Sino-Russian relations a priority of China's foreign policy.

Xi met his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Friday, with economic cooperation high on the agenda of the two leaders' meeting.

Moscow's state-owned energy giant Rosneft agreed to triple oil supplies to China in return for a $2 billion loan on Friday, while Russian gas behemoth Gazprom pledged to provide China with 38 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually from 2018, AFP reported.

"Many observers say Xi's trip has started a new page for the Sino-Russian relationship based on the fact that cooperation between China and Russia has reached a mature point," Tomikhin said, adding the time has come for "a higher level of cooperation" to be realized.

Bilateral trade has more than doubled over the past five years to reach a record high of $88 billion in 2012, but the Sino-Russian trade volume is still about five times smaller than Russian-EU trade volume.

According to Tomikhin, Chinese investment in Russia is still limited compared to that from Europe, and most Chinese investment comes from State-owned enterprises. He attributed this phenomenon to Chinese enterprises' lack of knowledge about Russian laws on investment protection.

Tomikhin said that politically nothing "stands in the way of bilateral relations development," partly because Beijing and Moscow adopt similar stances to pressing world issues.

In Xi's speech delivered Saturday at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, he warned against foreign interference in other nations.

"We know that many Western countries like to educate other countries about which road to take," Tomikhin said, adding that no such stance was taken by Russia or China.

But the diplomat denied media speculation of "Xi's pivot to Russia."

"Both countries have their own multilateral diplomacy, and Xi's trip to Russia does not mean that China's relationships with other countries are not important," Tomikhin said.

Some Chinese experts have expressed concern over Russia's stance on the Diaoyu Islands, but Tomikhin said that territorial disputes involving China and its neighbors did not threaten Sino-Russian ties.

Beijing and Moscow solved the thorniest issue in their relationship in 2004, when both sides signed an agreement paving the way for Russia's return to China of most of the Heixiazi Island, known as Bolshoi Ussuriysky in Russia.

Aside from bringing China and Russia's economic ties on par with both countries' political cooperation, Tomikhin identified people-to-people exchanges as another area in need of development.

"Exchanges between young people need to be enhanced to encourage them to be friendly to each other," Tomikhin said, referring to last week's barrage of negative comments from Chinese netizens that inundated the Russian embassy's Weibo accounts.

Tomikhin said he was optimistic about the new era of Sino-Russian ties under Xi's leadership. "He knows about the country well, having read Russian novels and learned our arts when he was young," he said of the Chinese president.

Posted in: Diplomatic Channel

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