Trust be­tween Rus­sia and China has reached un­prece­dented level: Putin Xinhua’s ex­cluive in­ter­view

Pakistan Observer - - INTERNATIONAL -

ST. PETERS­BURG, Rus­sia, - Rus­sian Presi dent Vladimir Putin, in an hour-long ex clu­sive in­ter­view with Xinhua Pres­i­dent Cai Mingzhao ahead of his up­com­ing visit to China, elab­o­rated his views on bi­lat­eral ties, China-Rus­sia trade, the Shang­hai Co­op­er­a­tion Or­ga­ni­za­tion (SCO), and in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion, among other is­sues. The fol­low­ing is the full text of Xinhua’s exclusive in­ter­view with Pres­i­dent Putin:

Cai: Hon­or­able Pres­i­dent Putin, it is my great plea­sure to have an exclusive in­ter­view with you here in your beau­ti­ful home­town St.Peters­burg, ahead of your once-again visit to China. Please al­low me to ex­press our re­spect to you on be­half of Xinhua News Agency. Putin: Thanks.

Cai: Thanks to the joint ef­forts made by Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping and you, the China-Rus­sia re­la­tion­ship is cur­rently at its best in his­tory. I be­lieve that today’s in­ter­view will also be con­ducive to our bi­lat­eral re­la­tions. Shall we start the in­ter­view please? Putin: Yes, please.

Cai: Ac­cord­ing to our cal­cu­la­tion, Pres­i­dent Xi had five meet­ings with you last year. And you are vis­it­ing China again very soon. The China-Rus­sia com­pre­hen­sive strate­gic part­ner­ship of co­or­di­na­tion has been deep­ened thanks to the joint ef­forts made by Pres­i­dent Xi and you.

This year marks the 15th an­niver­sary of the sign­ing of the Sino-Rus­sian GoodNeigh­borly Treaty of Friend­ship and Co­op­er­a­tion, as well as 20th an­niver­sary of the es­tab­lish­ment of the China-Rus­sia strate­gic part­ner­ship of co­or­di­na­tion. What in your opin­ion are the high­lights of Chi­naRus­sia ties? What are their fu­ture prospects? What do you ex­pect from this visit? Putin: You said our bi­lat­eral re­la­tions are stand­ing at a very high level, which is your com­ment on our bi­lat­eral ties. Here I want to re­mind Xinhua read­ers of two his­tor­i­cal junc­tures: Twenty years ago, we an­nounced a new type of re­la­tions — a strate­gic part­ner­ship; 15 years ago we signed the Si­noRus­sian Good-Neigh­borly Treaty of Friend­ship and Co­op­er­a­tion. As a lot of work has been done since then, trust be­tween Rus­sia and China has reached an un­prece­dented level and laid a solid foun­da­tion for bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion. Since it is a level that prob­a­bly has never been reached in our re­la­tion­ship in the past, it is very hard for our ex­perts to de­fine today’s com­mon cause that binds our two coun­tries to­gether. In fact, it is not enough now to sim­ply call it a strate­gic co­or­di­na­tion. There­fore, we started to call it”a com­pre­hen­sive strate­gic part­ner­ship of co­or­di­na­tion.” The word “com­pre­hen­sive” means that we are co­op­er­at­ing on al­most all vi­tal ar­eas, and “strate­gic” demon­strates the prime im­por­tance we are at­tach­ing to our re­la­tion­ship. You men­tioned the co­or­di­na­tion be­tween Pres­i­dent Xi and me. In­deed, the work be­tween us, the work at our level, serves with­out doubt as an en­gine for the de­vel­op­ment of bi­lat­eral re­la­tions. We are cur­rently dis­cussing to­gether some ba­sic is­sues in our co­op­er­a­tive strat­egy. Pres­i­dent Xi him­self val­ues a lot the de­vel­op­ment of Rus­si­aChina re­la­tions. He is a very good friend and re­li­able part­ner. How­ever, the smooth growth of Rus­sia-China ties can not merely de­pend on our ef­forts. It calls for fur­ther im­prov­ing the work­ing mech­a­nism be­tween the gov­ern­ments of the Rus­sian Fed­er­a­tion and the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China. The heads of gov­ern­ment of our two coun­tries meet on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. More than 20 sub­com­mis­sions and in­ter­gov­ern­men­tal com­mis­sions have been set up — I be­lieve there are 26 sub-com­mis­sions in fact. Peo­ple in th­ese com­mis­sions are work­ing dili­gently and ef­fi­ciently. Al­though the two coun­tries are still far from be­ing able to swiftly reach con­sen­sus on ev­ery com­pli­cated prob­lem, we al­ways share the com­mon goal of push­ing for­ward our co­op­er­a­tion no mat­ter how com­plex the is­sues are. So we al­ways find a so­lu­tion. The dif­fi­cul­ties that the global econ­omy is go­ing through are widely known. They are also re­flected in the co­or­di­na­tion be­tween the two coun­tries. For in­stance, the trade vol­ume be­tween Rus­sia and China has de­clined a bit. But we be­lieve it is merely a tem­po­rary downtick re­sult­ing

from the cur­rent mar­ket prices of cer­tain com­modi­ties and dif­fer­ences in ex­change rates. Mean­while, ac­tions have been taken to solve the ma­jor prob­lems. To op­ti­mize the bi­lat­eral trade struc­ture, we have taken some sub­stan­tial ac­tions. I may not re­mem­ber cor­rectly and may need to check up, over the past year, Rus­sian ex­port of me­chan­i­cal and tech­ni­cal prod­ucts to China has grown sig­nif­i­cantly, by 44 per­cent. This means a ot to us. We have been ne­go­ti­at­ing this with the Chi­nese part­ners for years.

I want to thank our friends for mak­ing this a re­al­ity, which makes it pos­si­ble for us to grad­u­ally re­al­ize our goals in the most im­por­tant di­rec­tion. This is our com­mon goal, which we have con­sen­sus with. We are go­ing for­ward to­gether in the di­rec­tion that we need to go. There­fore, the most im­por­tant task in bi­lat­eral re­la­tions is bring­ing di­ver­si­ties and higher qual­ity to trade re­la­tions, par­tic­u­larly boost­ing co­op­er­a­tion in high-tech ar­eas. We are also work­ing to­gether in the fields of space projects and avi­a­tion, no­tably with a joint re­search on wide-body air­planes and heavy-weight he­li­copters. We are jointly seek­ing so­lu­tions to eco­log­i­cal prob­lems and con­tinue to launch gi­ant pro­grams in the field of en­ergy, in­clud­ing nu­clear en­ergy.

Cai: Rus­sia has a lot of strength in th­ese sec­tors. Putin: In­deed, yes. Rosatom (Rus­sian sta­te­owned nu­clear cor­po­ra­tion) has a re­mark­able or­der­book. The two re­ac­tor units at Tian­wan Nu­clear Power Plant have been op­er­at­ing for eight years and have been rec­og­nized for their per­for­mance. We are build­ing two more re­ac­tor units and I don’t think we will stop there. We should ex­pand our co­op­er­a­tion, not just build­ing more nu­clear power plants in China but also broaden our tech­no­log­i­cal col­lab­o­ra­tion in this re­spect. China is now grad­u­ally strength­en­ing its pres­ence in our en­ergy mar­ket. Not only it’s one of the main share­hold­ers of the Ya­mal LNG plant, an im­por­tant liq­ue­fied nat­u­ral gas mega-project, but also China bought 10 per­cent of the shares of the Siberian-Ural Petro­chem­i­cal and Gas Com­pany, one of the top chem­i­cal share­hold­ing com­pa­nies in Rus­sia. We wel­come such in­vest­ment by China, not only be­cause of cap­i­tal in­flows but also be­cause it helps deepen our part­ner­ship. On the fa­mous MoscowKazan high-speed rail­way line, we are see­ing very good progress, and we are ex­pect­ing a speed of up to 400 km per hour at some seg­ments. We are closely fol­low­ing the work on the projects, and it may very well be only the be­gin­ning of our broad co­op­er­a­tion in in­fra­struc­ture.

Our co­op­er­a­tion in cul­ture is also of great value, in­clud­ing the Chi­nese Year and Rus­sia Year, held al­ter­nately in our two coun­tries, the Sino-Rus­sian Youth Friend­ship Ex­change Year, the Rus­sian and Chi­nese Lan­guage Year, the Tourism Year, etc. Some of th­ese were pro­posed by Cai: Thank you. You men­tioned the growth of eco­nomic and trade co­op­er­a­tion, and a lot of the mega co­op­er­a­tion projects, which are very en­cour­ag­ing. You have said many times that we should align the Eurasian Eco­nomic Union (EEU) with the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive pro­posed by

China. China’s eco­nomic sec­tor is fol­low­ing this closely. So specif­i­cally what do you sug­gest the two coun­tries do in this re­spect? How can we lever­age on the align­ment of th­ese de­vel­op­ment plans to pro­mote the eco­nomic and trade co­op­er­a­tion be­tween China and Rus­sia?

We all agreed to de­velop our co­op­er­a­tion with China within the framework of the Silk Road Eco­nomic Belt ini­tia­tive. I have to be ab­so­lutely frank with you. Of course, we do have to take care of the in­ter­ests of our pro­duc­ers. But we share the con­sen­sus that our fun­da­men­tal ap­proach to world eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and our co­op­er­a­tion with China is to grad­u­ally elim­i­nate the var­i­ous bar­ri­ers to our com­mon cause of open­ing up. So I think what we can do at the first stage is to es­tab­lish a free trade area. We are re­al­ists. We are aware that it is im­pos­si­ble at the first stage to rule out ex­cep­tions and spe­cial cases, but we should be clear about where we want to go. Given that more and more coun­tries in our re­gion are en­thu­si­as­tic about our co­op­er­a­tion, in or­der to achieve our aim, we shall try to cre­ate fa­vor­able con­di­tions for what we call Eurasian co­op­er­a­tion, and we shall try to avoid es­tab­lish­ing a closed eco­nomic and trade bloc.

Cai: Thank you. The 16th sum­mit of the Shang­hai Co­op­er­a­tion Or­ga­ni­za­tion (SCO) is to be held in the Uzbek cap­i­tal of Tashkent. Es­tab­lished 15 years ago, the SCO, with both China and Rus­sia as found­ing mem­ber states, has played an im­por­tant role in boost­ing re­gional se­cu­rity and de­vel­op­ment. What’s your an­tic­i­pa­tion for the up­com­ing sum­mit? And what do you think of the SCO mech­a­nism?

Putin: The SCO, at its early days, set it­self pretty low-pro­file goals. I want to say those goals were both im­por­tant and prag­matic, which were aimed at ad­dress­ing var­i­ous kinds of prob­lems in co­op­er­a­tion along the bor­ders. How­ever, whether they are easy or not, those is­sues were still no more than co­op­er­a­tion along the bor­ders. But we are aware that those is­sues would have stayed un­solved for decades with­out sin­cer­ity and could be eas­ily solved with enough sin­cer­ity. Whether those is­sues could be solved or not de­pends on a country’s in­ter­nal sit­u­a­tion and how it con­ducts it­self on the world stage, to a great ex­tent. It was based on their ut­most sin­cer­ity that Rus­sia, China and other SCO mem­ber states achieved all of the pre-set goals in this area. Ob­vi­ously, it is ad­vis­able for us not to aban­don this mech­a­nism and to cher­ish our achieve­ments as well as the cur­rent de­vel­op­ment level of the in­ter-re­la­tions among all the SCO mem­ber states.

As a mat­ter of fact, we have be­gun to solve other prob­lems through the SCO mech­a­nism, start­ing with co­op­er­a­tion in a num­ber of fields. Such co­op­er­a­tion is not only po­lit­i­cal but also in­volves in­fra­struc­ture construction. We have also be­gun to dis­cuss is­sues con­cern­ing se­cu­rity and drug traf­fick­ing, among oth­ers.

I will not say that we have achieved many mag­i­cal re­sults or that we have car­ried out a se­ries of ex­em­plary op­er­a­tions. But I will say the SCO has be­come a pop­u­lar and at­trac­tive or­ga­ni­za­tion in the re­gion. Many coun­tries around the world have ex­pressed will­ing­ness to join it. At the SCO Ufa Sum­mit last year, we de­cided to ini­ti­ate the pro­ce­dure of ad­mit­ting In­dia and Pak­istan into the bloc. At the Tashkent sum­mit, we will im­ple­ment the de­ci­sion and hold dis­cus­sions on other coun­tries’ will­ing­ness to par­tic­i­pate in the work of the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

The ex­pan­sion of the SCO’s func­tions and the in­crease in its mem­ber num­bers, par­tic­u­larly the in­clu­sion of those im­por­tant coun­tries men­tioned above, have made it an au­thor­i­ta­tive and pop­u­lar in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tion in the re­gion and the world at large. As the in­ter­na­tional sit­u­a­tion is com­plex and di­verse, some coun­tries might dif­fer from oth­ers in terms of stance and opin­ion over cer­tain in­ter­na­tional is­sues. Al­though their in­clu­sion into the SCO might not of­fer so­lu­tion to their dis­agree­ments, we will make ef­forts in paving the way for the set­tle­ment of those is­sues. We are full of ex­pec­ta­tions for that.

Cai: Thank you. Today the world faces many grave chal­lenges, in­clud­ing a slug­gish global eco­nomic re­cov­ery, in­sta­bil­ity and volatil­ity in some re­gions, ram­pant ter­ror­ist ac­tiv­i­ties. —[Email]

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