Xi's Russia visit will be a landmark

Updated: 2013-03-20 07:17

By Mikhail L. Titarenko (China Daily)

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Chinese President Xi Jinping is scheduled to visit Russia on March 22. By all accounts, his visit will boost Russia-China cooperation and partnership.

Xi's visit to Russia will be a landmark, because it will be the first country he travels to after becoming president. His decision to visit Russia also reflects the high mutual regard and confidence the leaders of the two countries have. And in more ways than one, the importance accorded to Russia by Xi mirrors the stance of Russian leaders toward China.

Signed recently by Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Russian foreign policy concept lays special emphasis on good-neighborliness, friendship and all-sided cooperation with China. The historical Treaty of Good-Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation, signed between Russia and China on July 16, 2001, plays a significant role in international relations for the two countries.

Built through mutual efforts, the Russian-Chinese friendship and cooperation serve the vital interests of the two countries, creating favorable conditions for peaceful development and ensuring mutual security, territorial integrity and sovereignty.

Another feature of Sino-Russian relations is that neither side pursues an expansionist agenda or targets another country. Sino-Russian good-neighborly relations have become a visible example of true friendly coexistence, cooperation and close interaction between countries with different social systems. There is, thus, no reason for any one to allege that Sino-Russian partnership and interaction are targeted at the United States or any other country. On the contrary, the efforts Russia and China have made to resolve regional and international issues demonstrate their preparedness for interaction and cooperation with the US and other countries.

US Secretary of State John Kerry's remark that the strategy to strengthen Washington's presence in Asia is not aimed at containing China (thus disavowing the statements made by his predecessor Hillary Clinton) did not go unnoticed either in China or Russia. But only time will tell whether Kerry's remark reflects a positive change in US policy or whether it signifies a shift in its strategy to contain China.

Neither a China-US alliance, as promoted by some, nor getting involved in an alliance-type game will help China gain strategic advantage, because the US' main objective has been and will be to contain China by every possible means. The same goal has prompted the US official propaganda machinery to try and sow the seeds of discord between China and its neighbors - from Russia and Vietnam to India and Japan - and even Iran.

It would be a mistake to measure the role and importance of Russian-Chinese comprehensive interaction and partnership only in terms of trade and economic cooperation. Quite often, political interaction between two countries aimed at protecting their vital national interests is more valuable than increasing the volume of bilateral trade.

Top Russian and Chinese leaders have in the recent past discussed the need to further strengthen Russian-Chinese strategic interaction and partnership. The two countries do still have weak links in their comprehensive cooperation, which sometimes create difficulties and lead to frictions. But it should not be forgotten that the process of normalization and elevation of Sino-Russian relations took place within a short time, which was preceded by more than 20 years of complex, dramatic events.

Therefore, the two countries' efforts have been mainly aimed at boosting mutual confidence not only at the highest level, but also between their people, especially youths.

The insufficient knowledge both countries have about each other's real situations and lack of total understanding about their mutual benefit make it necessary for the two sides to expand their cooperation, and increase their contacts, trade, and people-to-people and cultural exchanges.

Russia is certainly interested in a practical and mutually beneficial partnership with China for joint large-scale projects aimed at developing its Siberian and Far Eastern regions. The two countries could jointly work in the fields of energy, space, transport, education, science and technology. Russia and China both have historical "cushion-stocks" and real experience in these fields, and much will depend on their political will to make their joint efforts a success.

Xi's scheduled visit to Russia and his meeting with Putin are bound to intensify Russian-Chinese cooperation and take it to a new level, as well as consolidate the friendship and deepen the understanding between the two nations.

The author is president of Russia-China Friendship Association and director of the Institute of Far Eastern Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences.

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