Agreements boost China-Russia partnership
Updated: 2013-03-23 01:30
By Wu Jiao in Moscow and Li Xiaokun in Beijing (China Daily)
THE ROAD AHEAD | Upon arrival on a state visit to Moscow, President Xi Jinping stresses China will make developing its relationship with Russia a top priority of its diplomacy
China and Russia signed a joint statement to strengthen their key partnership on Friday after President Xi Jinping arrived in Moscow to start his first visit abroad since taking office last week.
Despite the frigid weather, Xi received a warm welcome at the airport, which was blanketed in snow.
The Chinese leader stepped off the plane with his wife Peng Liyuan. The couple wore dark coats lightened by Peng's blue scarf.
President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan wave upon their arrival at the government airport Vnukovo II, outside Moscow, on Friday. [Photo/Agencies]
The visit, during which more than 20 documents and deals were signed, will create the blueprint for future cooperation between Beijing and Moscow and "start a new era", experts and diplomats said.
It also testifies to the two countries' solid political ties and will deepen tangible cooperation, they added.
"China will make developing its relations with Russia a priority of its diplomacy," Xi said in a written statement released upon his arrival.
"Both China and Russia are at a crucial stage of their development and revival," he said in the statement. At present the two peoples hold higher expectations for bilateral ties and cooperation, he added.
On the eve of the visit, Russian President Vladimir Putin praised the two countries' cooperation to promote "a more just world order".
"The fact that the new Chinese leader is making his first foreign visit to our country confirms the special nature of a strategic partnership between Russia and China," he said in an interview released by the Kremlin.
Xi and Putin held in-depth talks on Friday afternoon after the Chinese president laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier immediately after his arrival.
Xi pledged to deepen mutual political support. He also urged both sides to translate their high-level political ties into more fruitful political cooperation.
He also vowed to enhance coordination in global and regional affairs with Russia to guard their common strategic security.
Putin said Sino-Russian relations have become a "vital element" for international relations.
He said he believed Xi's visit will "inject impetus" into the development of ties.
The two presidents witnessed the signing of agreements and deals in various areas, including trade, energy and culture.
Vice-Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping said ahead of the visit that a highlight of the trip will be "breakthroughs" on major projects of strategic significance, including energy, aviation, space flight and investment.
He noted that the two neighbors are complementary in their overall and local development plans. For example, Russia's exploration in the Far East and Siberia, and China's blueprint to revive the Northeast and develop the western regions presented huge opportunities for cooperation, he said.
The joint statement signed by the two presidents will elaborate their stances on key international issues, Cheng said.
After attending a banquet at the Kremlin, Xi and Putin attended the opening ceremony for Tourism Year of China in Russia as part of the China-Russia Tourism Year.
Xi is set to attend nearly 20 activities over a day and a half in Russia. He will also meet Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and other Russian leaders.
According to the Foreign Ministry, Xi will give a speech at a Moscow university and attend the launch ceremony of a memorial to the Sixth National Congress of the Communist Party of China, which was held in Moscow in 1928. It was the only CPC national congress held abroad.
He will also visit the Russian defense ministry, the first visit there by a top Chinese leader. Experts said the move testifies to the deep trust the two countries have for each other.
Sergei Sanakoyev, a veteran China expert with links to the Russian government, told AFP the two leaders will use the talks to attempt to map out a cooperation plan for the coming years.
"Essentially we are talking about a new epoch in relations between Russia and China."
Feng Yujun, head of Russian studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said China might invest in the development of the Far East to push forward construction of infrastructure there.
"Actually, both economies are at a critical time for transformation and structural adjustment," Feng said. China is seeking sustainable and green development while Russia is shifting the pivot of its economy from energy to innovation, he said.
"In that regard, the two countries have so many areas in which to learn from each other and grow together," he said.
In 2012, bilateral trade reached a record $88 billion, an increase of 11 percent over the previous year. Beijing and Moscow have set goals of reaching $100 billion by 2015 and $200 billion by 2020.
Nicola Casarini, research fellow at the EU Institute for Security Studies, noted that Xi's visit to Moscow takes place after Obama's visit to Israel and the US reiterating its commitment to halt Iran's nuclear program.
Therefore, the talks will include global strategic issues key to both countries, Casarini said.
Bonnie S. Glaser, Freeman Chair in China Studies at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, said: "Given that Russia is a huge country on China's border ... it isn't surprising that keeping the relationship stable is a high priority."
Glaser said there was no great concern about a strong bond developing between Beijing and Moscow to oppose Washington because "that wouldn't serve either country's interest".
After the Russian trip, Xi will fly to Africa for official visits to Tanzania, South Africa and the Republic of Congo. In South Africa, he will attend the fifth BRICS summit in the port city of Durban on March 26-27, the first to be held on the African continent. Leaders of the BRICS countries will also have a retreat with African leaders.
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Zhang Chunyan in London, Chen Jia in San Francisco, AFP and Xinhua contributed to this story.