Strategic partnership at work
Updated: 2012-06-05 08:07
By Mikhail L. Titarenko (China Daily)
Russian President Vladimir Putin's first visit to China after his inauguration,will take place on June 5. Eight months ago, in October 2011, then presidential nominee Putin visited China, with fruitful results. Russia-China relations were defined as a comprehensive strategic interaction and a partnership of mutual trust. After his inauguration on May 7, President Putin signed a decree that set Russia's foreign policy priorities.
That edict introduced the new focus of Russia's foreign policy outlined by Putin in his seven pre-election articles.
The task is to bring the Russian people's sense of national identity and Russia's foreign policy into compliance with its geographic, civilizational and cultural genom, which, as Putin wrote, represents an organic combination of the "fundamental bases of European civilization and centuries-long experience of interacting with the East, where today new centers of economic power and political influence are actively growing". In the course of his pre-election campaign Putin stated that Russia needs a strong and prosperous China, while China needs a strong and prosperous Russia. As for the assumption that China's rapid rise would pose a threat for Russia, he rejected it as totally untenable. On the contrary, he described China's rise as a challenge that would facilitate the accelerated rise of Russia as well, and said it is the wind that Russia has to catch in its sails.
All this underlines the exceptional value and "all-weather capability" of Russia-China cooperation.
The proposed visit by Putin to China, when he chose not to attend the recent G8 summit in the United States, generated a great deal of comment in the international media.
Certainly, Russia, as well as China, considers it strategically important to develop ties with the United States, the most powerful country in the world. But the strategic ties of Russia and China are built with due attention to the lessons of history, are not targeted against third countries and do not pursue the confrontational objective of "making friendship against somebody".
For each party, the contents and value of such relations are not predetermined by factors of expediency, which might be favorable or unfavorable, but rather by proper understanding of the similarity or coincidence of the two countries' vital interests, as well as the rich traditions of friendship and fruitful exchanges. Their relations are an important factor in international stability, national security, sovereignty and common development.
Therefore it would be an oversimplification to suggest that some unfriendly actions taken by the US against Russia and/or China have served as the impulse for building a Russia-China alliance targeted against the US or its allies. Rather US actions have stimulated the more active Russia-China dialogue on foreign-policy issues.
The significance of Putin's forthcoming visit to China is predetermined by the acuteness of the international situation, aggravated by the threat of a second-wave in the global economic crisis. Hence they need to take joint efforts in order to elevate the Russian-Chinese comprehensive strategic partnership, as well as practical steps for co-development of the Russian Far East and Siberia and the Chinese northeastern provinces.
In this sphere, there are vast expanses of "virgin land" for broad-scale, long-lasting and mutually beneficial cooperation between Russia and China. In this connection it seems that each party should "liberate its mind" and overcome many biases and unreasonable, often superficial, apprehensions and prejudices.
The current situation induces the two countries to activate their efforts to protect the principles of international laws and build a comprehensive, transparent and indivisible Asian security system that takes account of the interests of big and small countries.
During his visit to China, Putin will take part in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is a fairly new, but influential organization, which has not yet accomplished the process of its formation and realization of its regional responsibilities.
The efficiency and scale of the efforts by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization largely depend on the interaction and mutual trust between China and Russia.
The existence of different views on the expansion of the permanent membership of this organization is normal and should not be interpreted as a sort of Sino-Russian competition for leadership of the organization.
The unity of all the Shanghai Cooperation Organization member countries and the consolidation of their collective responsibility for sustainable stability in Central Asia and contributions to the economic growth of the region, as well as the mutually acceptable resolution of the current development problems and the strengthening of mutual security will be in the focus of profound exchange of views at the forthcoming summit of SCO member states.
The author is president of the Russia-China Friendship Association and director of the Institute of Far Eastern Studies, affiliated to the Russian Academy of Sciences.
(China Daily 06/05/2012 page9)