From space exploration to peaceful atomic projects to billion-dollar projects, the relations between Russia and China show “exemplary interstate relations,” as Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping put it during their meeting in Beijing.
The Russian leader arrived in China on Friday and is set to stay there till June 10, taking part in the summit of the leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization member-states.
But before that, Putin and Xi showed unity on a number of issues. Moscow and Beijing have long enjoyed a rather predictable and pragmatic relationship, largely based on economic and strategic concerns. The sides have been steadily expanding their economic cooperation and are planning to make additional efforts to increase trade.
The neighbors signed a number of agreements, including one on joint space projects.
Russian nuclear technologies, particularly in the field of using fast neutrons for fission chain reactions, will help with Chinses moon exploration. Moscow also agreed on the construction of a new nuclear power station, as well as construction of new units for the Tianwan nuclear power plant on the Chinese soil. According to Rosatom CEO Alexey Likhachev and Nur Bekri, the head of the Chinese National Energy Administration, “this package of agreements is the biggest in the history of Russian-Chinese nuclear cooperation.” Before his visit to Beijing, the Russian leader stated that China is already Russia’s number one foreign trade partner in an interview with the China Media Group.
Pressure from the West and strained relations between China and the US are gradually driving Moscow and Beijing to form closer ties. Both Putin and Xi pledged to support each other on key international issues.
“Amid the complicated international environment, Russia and China will continue stepping up bilateral strategic cooperation on international affairs and will deepen strategic cooperation,” Xi said.
According to Putin, Chinese-Russian partnership is an example of modern inter-state relations. “Our ties are a substantial factor to sustain balance and stability in the world where the international situation is characterized by high conflict potential,” the Russian leader stressed.
Easing tensions in North Korea
Both Russia and China have similar views on easing tensions in the world’s potential hotbeds, particularly in neighboring North Korea. “Russia and China are interested in establishing peace and stability on the peninsula and Northeastern Asia in general,” he said. The inter-Korean negotiation process, which has recently started, is going in line with the Russian-Chinese roadmap for the settlement, Vladimir Putin said after talks with Xi.
The states have a unanimous plan on avoiding the possibility of an armed conflict on the Korean Peninsula that envisions a suspension of all nuclear and missile tests from North Korea in exchange for a freeze of US-South Korea drills in the region. While the North dismantled one of its major nuclear test sites (Punggye-ri), the US and its long-standing ally South Korea continue to hold occasional drills.
Both Russia and China are seen as major adversaries by Washington, according to its recent national security doctrine. Moscow and Beijing, in their turn, are growing closer in terms of military cooperation, which includes conducting regular drills. In April, Beijing sent a delegation to Russia to show Washington the unity of Russian and Chinese military forces and “support” Russia at the 7th Moscow Conference on International Security. Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe, who arrived with the delegation, stated that “the Chinese side came to let the Americans know about the close ties between the Russian and Chinese armed forces.”
There’s also some personal chemistry between Putin and Xi, with the Russian president even celebrating his birthday in the company of his Chinese counterpart back in 2013. Xi Jinping is “a good analyst and it is interesting to discuss outstanding international issues, economy problems with him,” the Russian leader said before the visit, adding that they both have a lot in common in their approach to statesmanship.