Relations reach new heights
Updated: 2012-04-28 03:18
By Ding Qingfen in Moscow and Cheng Guangjin in Beijing (China Daily)
Vice-Premier Li Keqiang meets Russian Prime Minister and President-elect Vladimir Putin at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow on Friday. [Yana Lapikova / REUTERS]
Cooperation between China and Russia has huge potential, Vice-Premier Li Keqiang said in Moscow on Friday.
"The China-Russia all-around strategic partnership is unprecedented at the moment, and I believe the cooperation between the two countries could reach a new high, as there is a wide range of areas that we could jointly develop," said Li during his meeting with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
"Of course, the way ahead is always not smooth, but we are good neighbors, good friends and good partners."
On Thursday, Li started his 10-day visit to Russia, Hungary, Belgium and the headquarters of the European Union to enhance trade and investment relations. Russia is the first stop, and Li is expected to stay in the nation for four days as the two countries will discuss the promotion of trade and investment and witness the signing of large-scale deals.
China is Russia's largest trade partner, and the second largest export market for Russia.
Despite European debt woes, China-Russia trade surged by 42.7 percent from a year earlier to $79.25 billion in 2011, outperforming the growth of 22.5 percent for China's foreign trade during the same period, according to the General Administration of Customs.
Li said in an article published in a Russian newspaper on Thursday that China and Russia could reap benefits from each other's growth and prosperity, as the two countries share common economic targets and their industries are highly complementary.
"There is no doubt that the level of the two nations' relationship is very high, reaching a historical high, as a result of the joint efforts," said Putin.
"Russia and China cooperate closely on the global stage, and the two nations are striving to develop economic and trade relations," Putin said.
On Friday, Li also met Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and is scheduled to attend a China-Russia investment and trade forum on Saturday.
The two sides are expected to witness trade and investment deals among governments and corporations in the coming days in agriculture, energy, transportation, telecommunication and high-tech.
"The priority for us is to improve the living standards of the people, so we should develop pragmatic cooperation in economic and trade issues. I hope we could push forward cooperation in all aspects," said Putin.
In May, Putin will take on new duties as Russian president, and he will pay an official visit to China this June, the first such as president.
"China and Russia have political mutual trust, supplementary economies, good cultural exchanges, interactive military ties and well coordinated diplomacy, which is not a status that can be easily attained," said Yu Sui, a professor of Russian studies with the Beijing-based China Center for Contemporary World Studies. Such a relationship could improve as the two countries need each other to develop their domestic economies, said Yu.
Putin has vowed to stimulate the Russian economy and turn it into the world's fifth largest economy from its current 11th position by the end of the decade.
"The Sino-Russian comprehensive strategic partnership is based on a strong foundation and historic accumulation, which is also the basis for the two countries to realize further cooperation and safeguard their strategic interests in the future," said Xing Guangcheng, a researcher on Russian studies with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
However, according to Kerry Brown, head of the Asia Program at London-based Chatham House, "there is plenty of mutual suspicion, though. Russia admires China's strong growth, but wishes to protect its global role and maintain its diplomatic status."
Putin said the two nations have learned to treat each other as good friends.
"Due to the large-scale cooperation between the two sides, there are many issues that need our concerns, but there are not substantial problems between China and Russia," said Putin.
Li agreed by saying that "on the way to addressing the problems, we will try to continuously press ahead and tap the potential for business cooperation with joint efforts to make the prospects for both more prosperous."
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Zhang Chunyan in London contributed to the story.