Chinese president greeted with pomp and pageantry in Moscow

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (R) and his wife, Svetlana, welcome Chinese President Hu Jintao and his wife Liu Yongqing in the Moscow Kremlin, June 16, 2011 (AFP Photo / RIA-Novosti / Kremlin Pool / Dmitry Astakhov)
President Dmitry Medvedev and Chinese President Hu Jintao discussed a wide range of issues concerning bilateral cooperation before heading to St. Petersburg for the International Economic Forum.

Hu Jintao, who arrived in the Russian capital with his wife, Liu Yongqing, was treated to a red carpet welcome in the Grand Kremlin Palace on Thursday by President Medvedev and his wife, Svetlana.

The leaders and their wives then listened to the Presidential Orchestra perform the respective national anthems of the two countries before meeting with members of the Chinese and Russian delegation.

Judging by the pomp and pageantry of the Chinese president’s reception, Moscow is sending an unmistakable message that it seeks strong ties with its increasingly influential southern neighbor. It looks like the effort has paid off, as the Chinese leader had glowing words for the summit.

Hu said after talks with Dmitry Medvedev that their summit talks had been "trust-based, friendly and productive".

"We have signed a number of major documents, including a joint  statement,"

the Chinese leader said. He added that the development of relations with Russia

"will be prioritized in Chinese foreign policy."

Medvedev also expressed satisfaction with the meeting results: "Relations between Russia and China are developing at a good rate…We have a vast agenda.”

The Russian leader then recalled that this year marks the tenth anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Friendship and Co-operation between the two countries.

Over the past ten years, from the signing of the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation, "Chinese-Russian relations were marked by the unprecedented level of development, bringing tangible advantages to our peoples," Hu Jintao remarked.

Regarding the prospects for future relations, the Chinese president noted that "the sides will increase interaction and strengthen relations of strategic partnership under the principles of respect and equality."

"Traditional relations of friendship between our peoples must be passed on from one generation to another," he stressed.

On the economic front

The Chinese and Russian leaders confirmed that nine documents, including on energy cooperation, were signed in the course of the summit talks. Last year, despite the lingering effects of the global financial crisis, trade turnover between Russia and China hit $59.342 billion dollars, exceeding the 2009 rates by 34.5 per cent.

Russia and China set the goal of $200 billion in trade by 2020, President Dmitry Medvedev told a Thursday press conference following negotiations with Chinese leader Hu Jintao.

"We have set serious goals, our future guidelines: we want to enlarge trade to $100 billion by 2015 and to $200 billion by 2020," he said.

Bilateral trade stood at $8  billion at the end of the previous decade, Medvedev said. "It currently amounts to $60 billion and may be even bigger this year," he said.

Meanwhile, Russia and China continue to negotiate over gas deliveries,  Energy  Minister Sergei Shmatko told journalists on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg Economic Forum.

"The negotiations are continuing," Shmatko said. "This isn't haggling at a bazaar. There is no need for haste."

Russia, with abundant reserves of oil and gas, is the world's biggest energy supplier. China, meanwhile, which surpassed the US in 2009 as the world's biggest energy consumer, is looking for a reliable source of energy to fuel its supercharged economy. By all accounts, the relationship appears to be heading for a bright future.

Aside from energy deliveries, President Hu mentioned that both sides are working out measures to develop trade co-operation in the next ten years.

“Jointly with Russia, China is ready to strengthen economic exchanges in order to promote bilateral trade and economic co-operation on all parameters – on the scale and in the quality,"

Hu stressed.

Meanwhile, China has also thrown its support behind Russia's initiative to host a G20 summit in 2013.

"The Chinese side welcomes the Russian side's initiative to host a G20 summit  in  2013," says a joint statement that Presidents Dmitry Medvedev and Hu Jintao signed on Thursday.

The statement also pledges Chinese support for Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) before the end of 2011.

At the same time, the Chinese president called for developing relations in the energy sector, agriculture and other fields.

Hu and Medvedev passed a joint statement on the global situation and on main international issues, as well as a statement in connection with the tenth anniversary of the Good-Neighborly Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation between the Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China. 

Meanwhile, cooperation continues on other levels: contacts among the youth of both nations have intensified. In July, for example, the Fourth Russian-Chinese Youth Games will be held in the Russian city of Penza.

Foreign Policy Initiatives

Hu arrived in Moscow from Astana, Kazakhstan, where he and Medvedev attended a summit of the Shanghai Co-operation Organization (SCO), a regional security bloc comprised of China and Russia, and four Central Asian nations – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

During the SCO meeting, China and the other members released a statement criticizing US plans to build a missile shield in Eastern Europe, in close proximity to the Russian border, saying a unilateral buildup could undermine global security.

"The unilateral and unlimited buildup of missile defense by a single state or by a narrow group of states could damage strategic stability and international security," the SCO declaration said.

Meanwhile, China has assumed the rotating presidency of the SCO, saying it will focus its efforts on ways to strengthen security and stability in the region. This will certainly have no small impact on the Chinese-Russian relationship.

"We will strengthen the SCO's ability to counter real threats for the sake of maintaining stable peace and security in the region," Hu Jintao told the SCO leaders in Astana on Wednesday.

"We will enhance the organization's efficiency and ability to offer quick responses while respecting the SCO member-states' independence, sovereignty and choices. We will continue fighting against the three evils: terrorism, drug trafficking and cross-border crime," he said, adding that a “more advanced system of co-operation in security must be created on the basis of an all-around analysis of the basic issues and key factors influencing regional security.”

This month, China revealed that it will soon launch its first aircraft carrier – a 900-meter., 67,500-tonne former Soviet carrier named the Varyag. It has taken Chinese workers five years to restore the ship, which is expected to make its maiden voyage later this year. This was not the first time the Chinese have surprised military observers with its penchant for resourcefulness.

Medvedev and Hu Jintao had already met twice this year. Following their participation this week in the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (June 16-18), their next meeting will take place within the APEC and G-20 summits in autumn.

Robert Bridge, RT