Facts prove depth of Russia-China relations

By Georgy Zinoviev Source:Global Times Published: 2016/7/27 16:48:00

An article titled "Russian suspicions of China hold back ties" by Mr Han Kedi, an associate research fellow at the Institute of Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, was published on Monday in the English version of the Global Times.

There are reasons to believe that readers of this article might get a very twisted concept of Sino-Russian relations. So I think it is quite important to set the record straight using facts, not speculation.  

In the political sphere, the two countries have an unprecedented level of mutual trust. Obvious proof of this are the regular bilateral meetings of President Vladimir Putin and President Xi Jinping - four to five summits each year, including official visits and talks on the sidelines of international forums. Would that be possible if there is lack of strategic mutual trust between China and Russia, as Mr Han states in his article?

The two countries also have the efficient mechanism of regular meetings between prime ministers. Within this framework, four commissions at the vice-premier level and 20 commissions at the ministerial level successfully carry out the bilateral agenda. Heads of parliaments meet every year, The Presidential Administration and the Central Committee of the CPC have established direct dialogue. Russia and China hold high-level consultations on strategic security as well as on justice, law enforcement, public and information security. Ministers of foreign affairs have talks on regular basis, ministers of defense pay mutual visits, Russia and China conduct joint military exercises. Governors of regions and leaders of political parties maintain productive contacts. I am sure that all the participants both from China and Russia involved in these processes would be very much surprised to discover that, as Mr. Han puts it, "the various cooperation mechanisms are very inefficient." As an insider, which Mr Han is not, I can testify that is absolutely untrue. 

In the economic domain, China is the main trading partner of Russia. Even though due to the turbulence on international markets in 2015, bilateral trade decreased in currency equivalent, it was still increasing in volume and became more balanced and diversified. Strategic projects are in place or on the way - the oil pipeline, the gas pipeline, the Tianwan nuclear power plant, the Yamal LNG project, to name a few. The two countries are now moving toward the big Eurasian Economic Partnership - a new integration project to facilitate economic development on the vast Eurasian continent.

In the humanitarian field, we have successfully launched such large-scale projects as national years, language, tourism, youth friendly exchange years and are now carrying out media exchange years (2016-17), boosting the understanding and friendship between the two peoples. According to the results of public polls in Russia, the majority of Russian citizens view China as the friendliest country. There is actually no significant political force in Russia that opposes further enhancement of ties between Russia and China. In fact, there is a wide consensus in Russian society on that issue as well as on the fact that China's successful development is beneficial to Russia.

In the field of international cooperation, Russia and China established a partnership which is based on shared core principles and values. Both countries stand for a multipolar world order, against hegemony, interference in the internal affairs of other countries, or so called "color revolutions." Our positions on all outstanding international problems are similar or very close. It is easy to find proof in bilateral documents including the recent joint statement of Russia and the PRC and other statements signed during President Putin's visit to China on June 25.

Basic principles of bilateral relations have become part of our legal systems in the form of the Treaty of Good-Neighborly and Friendly Cooperation between Russia and China, the 15th anniversary of which we celebrated just several days ago. 

Mr Han made some far-reaching conclusions, such as - "Russia is aiming to contain China by using India," "Washington and Moscow have common ground in the South China Sea dispute" and so on, again, without providing any solid facts. Russia, China and India, important partners, share membership in many organizations and cooperation formats. Russia is eager to see Sino-Indian ties gain momentum - does this sound like "containment?"

The "proof" of South China Sea issue is that Russia emphasized the importance of protecting freedom of navigation there - same as the US and Japan, as Mr Han points out. Well, not only them, but also China and actually everyone else supports freedom of navigation and no one opposes it. Russia's position is clearly stated in many cases, including bilateral and multilateral documents and can easily be analyzed and compared with positions of other states. No one willing to do so objectively would reach same conclusions as Mr Han.

As for WWII, which is also mentioned by Mr Han, I would like to remind how our two countries - allies that suffered huge losses in the war - jointly celebrated the 70th anniversary of victory last year. Many thousands of my compatriots sacrificed their lives helping to liberate China. Speculation on that issue I find particularly cynical and immoral.

Our two countries share a long history of coexistence and cooperation, which is a great and probably unique example of generally good-neighborly relations between such big states. People of both countries may have different views on different episodes of remote past, which is quite natural, but today Russia and China are guided by the principle of a man of great wisdom - Deng Xiaoping, who suggested "to close the past and open the future" between the two countries.

I am not going to comment in detail on all the speculations concerning Russia in the article. But if Mr Han thinks that Russia is not enough of a friend to China, I wonder who he thinks is a friend of China. And if he thinks that no country needs diplomacy or friends, he is obviously wrong.

The author is Charge d'Affairs ad interim of the Russian Federation in China. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

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