China-Russia cooperation contributes to world stability
The fourth Eastern Economic Forum started in the Russian city of Vladivostok on September 11. Its main goal is to promote speedy economic development of the Russian Far East and to widen international cooperation in the Pacific. The total number of participants is more than 6,000 from more than 60 countries. The major topic of the Forum sounds challenging – “The Far East: Expanding the Range of Possibilities.”
There are seven business dialogues that Russia holds with its foreign partners and one of them is called “Russia-China.” Of course, participation of Chinese President Xi Jinping lends special status to the event. For the first time, President Xi is taking part in the Forum as the main guest.
The Chinese delegation is the biggest with 1,000 participants. Why is President Xi’s presence so important for Russia, China and for the Pacific as a whole?
As for Russia, currently it has limited access to Western markets and financial resources because of sanctions. The window of opportunity to the West is getting smaller for Russia due to the possibility of tougher US sanctions in three months.
Eastward expansion of NATO put pressure on Russia while the EU Eastern Partnership program drives a wedge between Russia and former Soviet republics who are participants of the program. It means that the necessity of the turn to the east for Russia is becoming indispensable.
Russia managed to stabilize the situation in Syria and thus proved that it can be not only a supplier of gas and oil but can also play the role of a provider of security and a mediator in other conflicts in Asia and the Pacific. China is under pressure from the US and its allies. The US policy of checking China’s rise and the standoff between the two countries is unlikely to diminish any time soon.
Under these conditions, the US will try to limit China’s freedom to develop sea routes for its economic development. However, China badly needs transport routes and there is an opportunity to create new ones through Russia and Central Asian republics.
All this pushes Russia and China toward closer cooperation and opens up the opportunity to create successful connectivity between the two countries as well as between Eurasian Economic Union and the Chinese Belt and Road initiative.
Under severe geopolitical constraints from the West, further development of Russia and China without close cooperation will be hard.
Russia’s strategic goal is to develop the Far Eastern region and to gain better access to the Asian and the Pacific markets. Russia can also boost its economy by creating logistics centers and getting access to financial resources and investments. On the whole, geographically Russian trade is moving toward Asia and China in particular. According to the Russian government, the share of exports to APEC countries reached 24.2 percent in 2017 surpassing twice the amount in 2008. At the same time, 49.4 percent of all shipments in Asia go to China.
Russia and China have special relations based on mutual respect and pragmatism. We do not try to teach each other how to live and do not impose our values on each other. Export of democracy as well as any other ideology is not productive. Harmonization of relations between Russia and China plays a positive role in further movement. This situation is different from our Western partners’ attitude.
At the summit meeting at Eastern Economic Forum, President Putin and President Xi focused on inter-regional relations between Russian and Chinese provinces.
President Xi came up with the proposal to step up the role of municipal authorities by encouraging the establishment of new models and channels of interaction. President Putin backed this innovation. Business and friendship cannot move forward without strong grass-roots relations.
Both leaders reaffirmed their willingness to strengthen trust and friendship in an informal situation when President Putin and President Xi put on aprons and jointly prepared Russian pancakes with caviar and drank some vodka on the sidelines of the Forum in Vladivostok.
To a great extent, world stability and security will depend on how Russia and China build and develop their relations.
The author is Vice-Rector of Research, Moscow-based Diplomatic Academy. firstname.lastname@example.org