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Relations between the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China

Wednesday, August 11, 2010 - 16:51

The history of contemporary Russo-Chinese relations began in December 1992 when Boris Yeltsin the PRC. 24 documents were signed touching upon political and economic relations and a joint statement on interrelations between the PRC and the RF was published. One more set of documents was signed during Chinese President Jiang Zemin's visit to the Russian Federation in 1994. Among them was a declaration of a long-standing development of bilateral relations, protocol of trade and economic cooperation and agreement on customs cooperation. During this visit Jiang Zemin characterized the Russo-Chinese relations as “constructive partnership.”
In April 1996 B. Yeltsin visited the PRC again. A Joint Declaration (Beijing Declaration) was signed stating “strategic partnership on the basis of equality, mutual trust and intercoordination.”
The PRC and the RF observe the contemporary world as developing towards multipolarity. Cooperation between the PRC and the RF on the international arena are constructed on the basis of the Declaration of Multipolarity of the World and he Formation of the New World Order which was signed at the summit level in April 1997.
An important step towards securing wide people’s support for the good neighborhood course and strategic partnership between the PRC and the RF was the creation of the Russian-Chinese Committee of Friendship, Peace and Development. Its first meeting took place in Beijing timed to coincide with Russian President’s visit to the PRC in 1997. Also, in November 1997 demarcation work was finished on the Eastern part of the Russia-Chinese border (from Korea to Mongolia, length over 4200 km), and in 1998 — on the Western part of the border (55 km) that allowed to undubiously mark it on the map for the first time in over 300 years.
The PRC is the third (after Germany and the USA) Russian trade partner of the non-CIS states. Russia is Chinese fifth trade partner according to sales turnover. The general legal and contract basis between Russia and China was farmed of the Trade Agreement between the RF and the PRC for 1997–2000, Memorandum on Reciprocal Understanding between the RF and the PRC on the primary directions in economic, scientific and technical cooperation, and also by numerous other governmental and local documents within the frames of certain cooperation levels. Russian-Chinese meetings at the summit level are held at least once a year.
The basis of Russian export to China is machinery and equipment, non-ferrous metals, wood and cellulose, chemical fertilizers and other chemicals. 70% of Russian import is made of leather goods, clothes, footwear, meat, machinery and equipment. However, the structure of Russian-Chinese trade is far from perfect. Russia primarily exports raw materials and mainly imports consumer goods. Meanwhile high technology products are not included in the trade turnover between the countries.
Lack of proper regulation for the legal basis, the so-called “people’s trade” led to a significant part of the trade turnover migration to the shadow side. Businessmen from the PRC use tourist channels to move small consignments of goods across the Russian border and independently sell them on Russian consumer markets. The profit is not fixed anywhere, almost fully avoids taxes and customs fees. Therefore, the Russian Federation bears losses. Moreover, within the frames of “people’s trade” it is impossible to utilize the required level of control over the quality of goods, to protect the lawful rights of consumers in case they have complaints or claims. Such phenomena in the bilateral trade may negatively influence on the economic and political relations between the countries. They may undermine mutual trust between the two nations.
In July 2000 new Russian President V. V. Putin confirmed that the PRC is Russian strategic partner sharing Russian urge for the establishment and consolidation of the multipolar world. The indication of a new level of the bilateral relations was the Russo-Chinese Agreement of Good Relations, Friendliness and Cooperation signed by President of the RF Vladimir Putin and President of the PRC Jiang Zemin in the middle of July 2001.
As the Russo-Chinese relations on the whole, the Agreement has two primary aspects: international, and bilateral. Almost complete agreement in the views of both sides on international problems is the main factor for bilateral relations. Many times in Beijing and Moscow the leaders said that Russo-Chinese rapprochement is not directed against third countries including the USA — and this is right as neither the USA nor the West are regarded by both the RF and China as an enemy. On the contrary, both sides are sincerely interested in economic and political cooperation with the West. This is the main factor for the development of both countries and, consequently, fully coincides with their strategic objectives. However, it is also possible that the Russo-Chinese rapprochement is stimulated by a number of negative tendencies in the development of international relations. First of all, it is a tendency to detract the role of the UNO and its departments, a NATO attempt to take over the functions of the UN Security Council, NATO expansion.
The stabilization tendency of the economic growth was fixed during the visit to St. Petersburg of the Prime Minister of the State Council of China Zhu Rongji in September 2001. From the Chinese point of view the main problem of the bilateral trade is excess of the Chinese import over export. But the RF is not satisfied either as the primary components of its export are weapons and raw materials. The weapons export constitutes 15–20%. And this is not accidental, as in this sphere the PRC can purchase from Russia such kind of goods that are completely closed for them in the West. The Russian trade with the PRC is very important in that it solves very important problems: creates new employment places, provides dozens of thousands of people with salary and helps develop the technological potential concentrated in the defense sector in the conditions of lack of financial support from the government. The Russian Federation would like to sell civil consumer production in China, which China displays very little interest to, preferring Western samples in spite of a much higher price.
The PRC influences mostly the economic relations in the world through its growing energy needs. It is the sphere of energy resources that is the most promising direction in the cooperation between Russia and China. The PRC has become the second in the world oil consumer after the USA, pushing back Japan to the third place. Therefore a decision was taken to build an oil pipe line “Eastern Siberia — Pacific Ocean.” Transneft Company and the Chinese National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) signed a protocol on the preparation for the installation of the Chinese part of the pipe line. The implementation of this project will significantly enlarge the supplies of oil from Russia to China. Also Gazprom and CNPC signed agreements on the construction of two gas pipe lines and another agreement was reached to perform a feasibility study of the delivery of Russian electric energy to China.
At the behest of Russian President Vladimir Putin President of the PRC Hu Jintao paid an official visit to the Russian Federation from 26 to 28 May 2003.
The heads of both countries discussed the development of bilateral relations in the last decade and their current prospects. They underlined their unity in that in spite of any changes in the world enhancement of good neighboring relations, friendship, mutually advantageous cooperation, partnership and strategic interaction between the RF and the PRC would remain the prioritized directions in the foreign policy of both countries. The parties declared that they were prepared to pick up the slack from previous generations and carry it on to the future, jointly endeavor the discover of new prospects for the development of Russo-Chinese relations.
The RF and the PRC support the multipolar, just and democratic world order on the basis of commonly acknowledged principles of international right.
There were several regional structures created to help realize the multipolarity principle in reality. Among them the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is of special interest. It appeared in 2001 and very quickly became a powerful and influential organization. SCO if an open organization of partners targeted at the support of peace and stability in the region and development of wide-range international cooperation. The Shanghai Five (Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan) was originally formed to solve border disputes on the basis of trust improving agreements in the military sphere and reduction in force in the frontier regions. But with time the Shanghai Five became a very dynamic and influential international organization. Uzbekistan joined the organization in 2001. The SCO members count on joint strategic achievements in the region in various spheres using a successful experience collected during the solution of complicated and dramatic political and military problems, mutual trust, inter-civilization respect tradition and dialog in the search for the ways of mutual development.
From 9 till 17 August 2007 the most wide-scale joint Russian and Chinese military exercises took place within the frames of the SCO organization. These exercises were global and politically oriented and surpassed the frames of pursuing a certain terroristic band in the territory of Central Asian countries. These exercises facilitated large-scale geopolitical cooperation whose main objective was prevention of American military force intrusion into the region.
In July 2005 the PRC President Hu Jintao and the RF President Vladimir Putin officially announced in Moscow that in 2006 and 2007 the RF and the PRC would held “national years” in the territory of each other. This was a tremendous event in the history of Russo-Chinese relations, exceedingly important in the historic perspective for the support of good neighborhood and friendliness between the RF and the PRC, for global improvement in mutually advantageous cooperation and for the development and prosperity of both countries.
“National years” was a systematic project touching upon numerous spheres: political, economic, scientific, technical, military, humanitarian and other. For its successful implementation the RF and the PRC established special committees on the highest level. These committees included the heads of federal agencies, as well as local administration of both countries, representatives of the parliaments, directors of large enterprises and public associations.
The PRC foreign policy, especially the new international “peaceful revival of China” conception, is the political basis for the Russo-Chinese relations. The PRC puts hopes upon strategic partnership between both countries. The PRC facilitates and will facilitate the development of the comprehensive co-operation with the Russian Federation. For China Russo-Chinese relations take the second place by significance after the relations with the USA.
The main objectives of the Russo-Chinese partnership relations are the development of bilateral and long-standing relations, facilitation of mutual development and prosperity of both countries, enhancement of international policy coordination and cooperation, as well as protection of interests on the international arena. These new relations are characterized by absence of conflict and are not targeted against other countries. They are constructed on the basis of key national interests of both countries and reflect the changes of international relations and the world order after the end of the Cold War.
The new world order must be based upon the mutual respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual nonaggression, non-intrusion into the internal affairs of each other, equality and mutual benefit. The RF and the PRC support multipolarity and democracy in international relations. Both countries actively cooperate in the sphere of the protection of international legal norms, consolidation of the UNO place and role in international affairs. Creation of the SCO facilitated greatly the development of Russo-Chinese regional cooperation.
According to the PRC new international conception the RF takes an important place among the state’s priorities. Several agreements were signed: on mutual trust, reduction in military force in frontier districts, demarcation of the Eastern and Western parts of the Russo-Chinese border, friendly neighborhood relations between the RF and the PRC, the SCO was created. All this creates a solid basis for the development of Russo-Chinese relations.
Today the attitude of China and Russia towards numerous international problems coincides, among them: establishment of a new world order, cooperation and security in Asian and Pacific regions, as well as on Korean peninsula. Thus, both parties strive for peaceful settlement of the “North Korea nuclear weapon problem.” The PRC respects and values the Russian assistance in the hexalateral talks on the North Korea problem in Beijing.
However, still there are certain problems in the relations between China and Russia. The first is the RF refusal to start planned construction of the oil pipe line “Angarsk–Daqing” which may damage the Russo-Chinese relations. Such disagreement may negatively influence the amount of weapon and equipment that China purchases from Russia which, according to Russian side acknowledgement benefits considerably the military-industrial complex of the RF.
Today both China and Russia undergo serious changes, they both encounter a need for reform and development of international connections in economy. Both countries are world powers and constant members of the UNO Security Council. Meantime, both the RF and the PRC facilitate the development of the Russo-Chinese relations on the basis of the following presumptions:
1. cooperation in economic and technical spheres should develop. This is facilitated by geographical neighborhood and mutual complementarity. The following spheres of cooperation have increasingly favorable prospects: energy resources, machine building, chemicals, peaceful use of nuclear power. However, the trade turnover has not yet reached the required level. The trade and economic connections were positively influenced by reforms in customs and international trade services. As we know in 2001 the PRC was accepted as a member in the World Trade Association. The RF intends to enter into the WTO too, which will create great prospects for the enhancement of trade and economic relations between the countries. Moreover, cooperation in the energy sector may partly solve the problem of import of energy to the PRC and provide Russia with stable money receipt.
2. The RF and the PRC should actively cooperate within the frames of regional organizations, such as Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Organization, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and other. Cooperation is maintained in economic, political and humanitarian spheres, as well as security. The SCO is of special importance as it was established thanks to the mutual Russo-Chinese efforts. Today its quality and functions are reformed. The organization has passed the way from consolidation of trust and cooperation in military sphere on a bilateral basis to the support of regional stability and security, as well as development of regional economic cooperation. This organization is exceedingly important for the consolidation of cooperation between the RF and the PRC in the sphere of security and economy, as well as in regional affairs, especially in the fight against international terrorism, religious extremism and national separatism, in defense of national integrity and regional security.
3. further consolidation of Russo-Chinese coordination and cooperation on the international arena is of special importance. Both parties are targeted at the enhancement of the UNO role, at the establishment of a new world order and democratization of international relations. It should be specially underlined that it is necessary to develop interstate relations between the RF and the PRC on the problem of North Korean nuclear crisis, after-war reconstruction and restoration in Iraq and stability in the Middle East, in the fight against international terrorism and in the solution of other problems on the planet.

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