Putin visit affirms value of Sino-Russian ties

After attending the annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Russian President Vladimir Putin paid a state visit to China on Saturday. The short but significant visit shows the importance of Sino-Russian relations.

Putin’s trip came at a special time. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the China-Russia strategic relationship of coordination, and the 15th anniversary of signing the Sino-Russian Good-Neighborly Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation. As a result, it has special significance for China-Russia relations.

After the leaderships of the two countries established the strategic relationship of coordination in 1996, these ties developed into a model for today’s major-power relationship. The two countries adhere to the principle of non-alliance; non-confrontation and not targeting a third party, and promote the bilateral relationship to a higher level based on the spirit of equality, mutual trust, mutual support, common prosperity and long-lasting friendship.

The Sino-Russian Good-Neighborly Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation was signed during the state visit to Russia by then Chinese president Jiang Zemin in 2001. This achievement elevated the bilateral relationship to a new height and the two countries’ commitment to staying friendly from generation to generation and never becoming enemies has guided the bilateral ties in the long run.

These two strategic decisions serve the fundamental interests of the two countries and the two peoples, and conform to the trend of the times, as Chinese President Xi Jinping said in his meeting with Putin. Against this backdrop, Putin’s visit highly affirms the achievements of the bilateral relationship over the past two decades and also displays the confidence the relations will march on a new path.

During Putin’s stay in China, the two countries signed around 30 deals in a wide range of areas like trade, foreign relations, infrastructure, technological innovation, agriculture, finance, energy, media, the internet and sports. This shows the deepening of bilateral economic and trade cooperation.

China has become Russia’s largest trading partner. Although the two-way trade between China and Russia has dropped due to a price slump of global bulk commodities since 2014, the size and the total volume of trade have risen instead. For instance, in May China imported a record 5,245 million tons of crude oil from Russia, a year-on-year increase of 33.7 percent. China’s imports of mechanical and electrical products and hi-tech products from Russia also rise year by year.

Deepening the economic and trade cooperation with China helps Russia promote its Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) strategy, a consensus reached across the country. As Russia suffers from a sluggish economy and high pressure from Western sanctions, Putin has to open his mind and seek a solution together with the Chinese leaders such as linking the EEU with the Silk Road economic belt, and the Made in China 2025 with the Russian Innovations strategy 2020.

It takes time to address a variety of problems facing bilateral cooperation, and Putin’s visit cannot give an answer to all these issues. But meetings between high-ranking officials from the two sides can help the two maintain the good momentum of their economic development.

Moreover, Putin’s visit to China shows the meeting mechanism of Chinese and Russian heads of state is highly effective and plays an irreplaceable role in safeguarding peace, security and stability in the region and the whole world. During Putin’s one-day stay, the leaders of the two countries signed three joint statements in addition to over 30 cooperation documents, and held several high-level meetings. Such efficiency would not be possible if the two sides didn’t have high strategic trust, understanding and respect.

As permanent members of the UN Security Council, China and Russia are undertaking the historical mission of promoting justice and safeguarding peace, and their coordination is an important factor to stabilize the international community. The two’s close cooperation and coordination on a series of international hotspot issues like the North Korean nuclear development, the Afghan war, the Iraqi war, the Ukrainian crisis and the Syrian conflict have considerably contributed to easing tensions and safeguarding regional peace.

In this sense, Putin’s China tour not only promotes China-Russia cooperation and development, but also helps maintain security and stability of Eurasia. In particular, the joint statement signed by Xi and Putin to strengthen global strategic stability has great significance in easing tensions in some regions and turning some disputes in a positive direction.  

By Luo Yingjie

The author is a professor at the University of International Relations. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

This article was first published at Global Times China.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.