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President Hu’s visit to Russia – in search of another strategic partner

Updated On: Mar 30, 2007

Chinese President Hu Jintao arrives in Russia for a three-day visit.

This visit is closely watched by US and its allies like India and Japan which have themselves been busy trying to forge trilateral and bilateral alliances.

The immediate objective of the visit is to augment mutual trust between the two states (a former superpower and a rising power),  and upgrade bilateral relations in all fields, but particularly in strategic economic partnership.  This may begin with an immediate strengthening of economic collaborations from 2007 to 2010 in the fields of infrastructure building, energy, science, technology and nuclear power. Particular attention will be given to the areas of space, bio-engineering and information technology.

On arrival, Hu told the Russian media that he is confident that China-Russia trade would reach 60 billion to 80 billion U.S. dollars by 2010.  Bilateral trade had been rapidly rising in eight consecutive years and reached 33.4 billion dollars in 2006. The billion dollar deals between China and Russia starts with more than US$4.3 billion (S$6.5 billion) worth of Russian oil to China transported through railway.

Hu also pledged China’s support for Russia’s early entry to WTO.  In return for China’s WTO support and economic partnership, "Russia will support more companies to invest in China" and create conditions for banks to facilitate such investments, said President Putin. Russia has also expressed desire for the Chinese to invest in the Far East and the Siberian regions.

In the area of security cooperation, Sino-Russian collaboration will strengthen within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and both have pledged to work together to combat terrorism, separatism and extremism. The SCO strikes fear in the US-led side of Asia (including countries like Japan and India) which fears the grouping becoming an axis of Sino-Russian hegemony in Central Asia in the long run and a global force for multipolarity to offset US superpower preeminence. Both do not agree with the US worldview of a unipolar world dominated by a single superpower and, on occasions, the leaders of Russia and China have spoken out strongly against US dominance in global politics and economics.

This Sino-Russian newfound security collaborative spirit seems to be based on the settlement of border disputes between the two which has partly plagued relations for years during the Maoist period. Under the Supplementary Agreement on the Eastern Section of China-Russia Boundary Line signed on Oct. 14, 2004, demarcation of the Sino-Russia border is on track for completion by end-2007.

Previously, in the "Year of Russia in China" there were some 300 events that drew the participation of more than 500,000 Chinese. This year is the "Year of China" in Russia, involving some 200 activities on politics, economy, science, technology and culture. Both countries seem intent to make a statement about their partnership not only to their domestic audience but also to the external world.  (29 March 2007)

Sources:

Chinese president advocates partnership of mutual trust, benefit with Russia (People’s Daily, 27 March 2007)

Putin says energy cooperation with China benefits both sides (People’s Daily, 27 March 2007)

China, Russia reach common ground on major international issues (People’s Daily, 27 March 2007)

Chinese, Russian presidents vow to strengthen strategic partnership (People’s Daily, 27 March 2007)

China-Russia trade to hit 60 to 80 bln U.S. dollars by 2010, president says (People’s Daily, 26 March 2007)

President Hu hails China-Russia relations before Russia visit (People’s Daily, 26 March 2007)

Chinese president arrives in Moscow for visit (People’s Daily, 26 March 2007)

Hu Jintao visits Russia (Straits Times, 26 March 2007)