China-Rus­sia co­op­er­a­tion con­trib­utes to world sta­bil­ity

Global Times - - Forum - By Oleg Ivanov

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. opin­ion@glob­al­

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