Pragmatism breathes new life into Sino-Russian relations

China Plus Published: 2019-09-18 22:32:40
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Note: The following article is taken from the Chinese-language "Commentaries on International Affairs."

Chinese premier Li Keqiang held talks with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev during an official visit to Russia from 16th to 18th September. This 24th regular meeting between the Chinese and Russian government leaders was yet another important high-level exchange between the two sides, and was also designed to translate into reality the outcomes of Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Russia in June.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (L) and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev co-chair the 24th regular meeting between Chinese and Russian heads of government in St. Petersburg, Russia on Tuesday, September 17, 2019. [Photo: Xinhua]

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (L) and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev co-chair the 24th regular meeting between Chinese and Russian heads of government in St. Petersburg, Russia on Tuesday, September 17, 2019. [Photo: Xinhua]

In the 70 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Russia, the two sides have regarded each other as their diplomatic priorities, and have established a new model of state relations characterized by "non-alignment", "no confrontation" and "not targeting third parties", as well as a mechanism featuring complete high-level exchanges and cooperation in various fields. This has helped form an all-round, deep-level and three-dimensional mutually beneficial cooperation pattern. In June this year, when Chinese President Xi Jinping paid a state visit to Russia, he and President Vladimir Putin upgraded Sino-Russian relations into a comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era. This means that the strategic mutual trust has reached an unprecedented high level.

In accordance with the plans of the Chinese and Russian leaders, the two sides are seeking to deepen pragmatic cooperation and expand common interests as an important direction for the development of Sino-Russian relations. It’s particularly gratifying that last year, the trade volume between China and Russia exceeded 100 billion US dollars for the first time, an increase of 27.1%. China has become Russia's largest trading partner for 9 years in a row. Against the background of a marked slowdown in global trade and investment, the trade volume between China and Russia increased to 70.59 billion US dollars in the first eight months of this year, an increase of 4.5% year-on-year. This shows that Sino-Russian cooperation has abundant vitality and broad prospects. A new era of warm ties in both the political and economic fields has come.

According to Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, the two countries plan to increase bilateral trade volume to 200 billion U.S. dollars by 2024. Both the joint communique issued after the meeting between the two prime ministers and the cooperation documents signed by the two sides in the fields of economy, trade, investment, agriculture, nuclear energy, aerospace and digital economy show clearly that China and Russia will have more pragmatic cooperation in multiple fields.

For example, the two sides decided to exchange information on eliminating obstacles in bilateral trade and investment cooperation on a regular basis, and raise the level of trade facilitation; implement investment projects in Russia’s Siberia and the Far East; hold a launching ceremony of production and supply for the China-Russia East-Route Natural Gas Pipeline project within this current year; expand the use of local currencies in bilateral trade and investment; expand the mutual import of high-quality agricultural products, and strengthen scientific and technological cooperation in the fields of aerospace and communications technology. China and Russia are also expected to strengthen cooperation for the sustainable development of the Arctic and promote the development and utilization of the Arctic waterway.

It is foreseeable that with the joint efforts of both sides, China's industrial, capital and market advantages will better match Russia's resources, technology and talents. The Sino-Russian cooperation will focus on upgrading from the traditional energy sector to the high-tech sector. The economic and social development of the two countries has injected new impetus to better benefit the two peoples.

Both China and Russia firmly support economic globalization and free trade, and defend the authority of the United Nations and multilateralism. During this meeting, the two sides reaffirmed their adherence to the core values and basic principles of the multilateral trading system centered on the rules of the World Trade Organization, and agreed to promote the alignment of the “Belt and Road Initiative” with the Eurasian Economic Union.

After 70 years, Sino-Russian relations stand at a new starting point. Their advance will not only help the two countries achieve revitalization, but will also make new contributions to the establishment of new international relations, the building of a community of shared future for mankind, and the safeguarding of world peace and stability.

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LU Xiankun Professor LU Xiankun is Managing Director of LEDECO Geneva and Associate Partner of IDEAS Centre Geneva. He is Emeritus Professor of China Institute for WTO Studies of the University of International Business and Economics (UIBE) and Wuhan University (WHU) of China and visiting professor or senior research fellow of some other universities and think tanks in China and Europe. He also sits in management of some international business associations and companies, including as Senior Vice President of Shenzhen UEB Technology LTD., a leading e-commerce company of China. Previously, Mr. LU was senior official of Chinese Ministry of Commerce and senior diplomat posted in Europe, including in Geneva as Counsellor and Head of Division of the Permanent Mission of China to the WTO and in Brussels as Commercial Secretary of the Permanent Mission of China to the EU. Benjamin Cavender Benjamin Cavender is a Shanghai based consultant with more than 11 years of experience helping companies understand consumer behavior and develop go to market strategies for China. He is a frequent speaker on economic and consumer trends in China and is often featured on CNBC, Bloomberg, and Channel News Asia. Sara Hsu Sara Hsu is an associate professor from the State University of New York at New Paltz. She is a regular commentator on Chinese economy. Xu Qinduo Xu Qinduo is CRI's former chief correspondent to Washington DC, the United States. He works as the producer, host and commentator for TODAY, a flagship talk show on current affairs. Mr. Xu contributes regularly to English-language newspapers including Shenzhen Daily and Global Times as well as Chinese-language radio and TV services. Lin Shaowen A radio person, Mr. Lin Shaowen is strongly interested in international relations and Chinese politics. As China is quite often misunderstood in the rest of the world, he feels the need to better present the true picture of the country, the policies and meanings. So he talks a lot and is often seen debating. Then friends find a critical Lin Shaowen criticizing and criticized. George N. Tzogopoulos Dr George N. Tzogopoulos is an expert in media and politics/international relations as well as Chinese affairs. He is Senior Research Fellow at the Centre International de Européenne (CIFE) and Visiting Lecturer at the European Institute affiliated with it and is teaching international relations at the Department of Law of the Democritus University of Thrace. George is the author of two books: US Foreign Policy in the European Media: Framing the Rise and Fall of Neoconservatism (IB TAURIS) and The Greek Crisis in the Media: Stereotyping in the International Press (Ashgate) as well as the founder of, an institutional partner of CRI Greek. David Morris David Morris is the Pacific Islands Trade and Investment Commissioner in China, a former Australian diplomat and senior political adviser. Harvey Dzodin After a distinguished career in the US government and American media Dr. Harvey Dzodin is now a Beijing-based freelance columnist for several media outlets. While living in Beijing, he has published over 200 columns with an emphasis on arts, culture and the Belt & Road initiative. He is also a sought-after speaker and advisor in China and abroad. He currently serves as Nonresident Research Fellow of the think tank Center for China and Globalization and Senior Advisor of Tsinghua University National Image Research Center specializing in city branding. Dr. Dzodin was a political appointee of President Jimmy Carter and served as lawyer to a presidential commission. Upon the nomination of the White House and the US State Department he served at the United Nations Office in Vienna, Austria. He was Director and Vice President of the ABC Television in New York for more than two decades.