Putin Tells China, Joint Economic Relations Are of "Paramount Importance"
May 19, 2014 • 9:11PM

On the eve of his state visit to Shanghai, China, Russia President Vladimir Putin told China's leading media that the expansion of Russian-Chinese economic relations is of "paramount importance," for both nations and the stability of the world economy. "In the context of turbulent global economy, the strengthening of mutually beneficial trade and economic ties, as well as the increase of investment flows between Russia and China are of paramount importance. This is not just a crucial element of socioeconomic development of our countries, but a contribution to the efforts aimed at stabilizing the entire global market," Putin told Chinese Central Television, Xinhua news agency, China News Service, the People's Daily, China Radio International, and Phoenix Television. He will be in Shanghai May 20-21 with other world leaders for the 4th Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) Summit. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will also sign a joint statement in Shanghai. Putin was asked about Russia's strategic perspective. "China," one interviewer said, "is consistently making progress towards the 'Chinese dream,' i.e. a great national rebirth. Russia has also set a goal of restoring a powerful state. How, in your opinion, could our countries interact and help each other in fulfilling these tasks? What areas can be prioritized in this regard?" Putin answered that "Promotion of friendly and good-neighborly partnership relations is fully consistent with the interests of both Russia and China. We do not have any political issues left which could impede the enhancement of our comprehensive cooperation. Through joint efforts, we have established a truly exemplary collaboration, which should become a model for major world powers." Putin noted that "Both Moscow and Beijing are well aware that our countries have not exhausted their potentials. We have a way to go. The priority areas of collaboration at the current stage include the expansion of economic ties and cooperation in science and high-technology sector. Such pooling of capacities is very helpful in fulfilling the tasks of domestic development of our countries." To take trade beyond "external market conditions, (the two countries will) pay particular attention to the breakthrough areas such as higher energy efficiency, environmental protection, production of drugs and medical equipment, developing new information technologies, as well as nuclear energy and outer space. We will implement a list of joint projects in 40 priority areas with total investments of about $20 billion," he said.. Putin also emphasized financial cooperation, to "protect ourselves from exchange-rate fluctuations among the world's major currencies. Therefore, we are now considering how to increase mutual settlements in national currencies."

Fascist Revisionist History

The ongoing crisis in Ukraine was raised from the Chinese side by noting that in 2015, the two "countries will celebrate the 70th anniversary of Victory over fascism. What is the impact of joint Russian-Chinese efforts to oppose the attempts aimed at challenging the results of World War II?" Putin answered that "the attempts to rewrite and distort history are becoming more frequent. Four years ago Russia and China adopted a Joint Statement on the 65th Anniversary of Victory in the Second World War. We share an idea that it is unacceptable to revise the results of the war, as the consequences will be extremely grave. It is clearly evident from the tragic events currently unfolding in Ukraine, where violent neo-Nazis are waging a real campaign of terror against civilians.... We will certainly continue to oppose attempts to falsify history, make heroes of fascists and their accomplices, blacken the memory and reputation of heroic liberators."

Peace Through Development

Putin also said that Russia wants Chinese business investment to develop Russia's Far East region. This huge area has suffered seriously from stagnating infrastructure investment and loss of the already-sparse population since the breakup of the Soviet Union almost 25 years ago. The two nations have discussed joint cooperation to develop the region, which is, among other things, essential as the northeastern Eurasia base for the Bering Strait tunnel project to link Eurasia with the Americas. However, to date, actual investment has been far too limited. We certainly are interested in Chinese business's availing itself of the opportunities and be among the leaders there, for an accelerated development of the Far East is beneficial to both Russia and China," Putin said. Although he laid out an ambitions program to expand trade, from the current almost $90 billion, to $100 billion by 2015 and up to $200 billion by 2020, Putin emphasized that: "It is essential to form strong technological, industrial alliances, attract investments to the infrastructure and the energy sector, jointly advance research and humanitarian contacts, and lay a solid foundation of sustainable development of our trade-and-economic relations in the long term. In the process, the Far East can and must become a natural platform for the application of these efforts." Developing Siberia and the Far East has been designated as "one of chief national priorities of Russia in the 21st century," Putin said. "Emphasis is laid on the establishment of special territories for a priority economic development, in which an auspicious environment will be formed to attract investments, ensure competitive conditions for organizing export-oriented non-primary sector production plants." Asked about his overall expectations from the visit, Putin said that "Establishing closer ties with the People's Republic of China — our trusted friend — is Russia's unconditional foreign policy priority. Now Russia-China cooperation is advancing to a new stage of comprehensive partnership and strategic interaction. It would not be wrong to say that it has reached the highest level in all its centuries-long history." Putin said he has "good working and personal relations" with President Xi Jinping, "I am sure that the upcoming talks will give a powerful impetus to further strengthening of bilateral cooperation in all areas and deeper coordination in the international area. "Russia and China have actively advocated establishing a new security and sustainable development architecture in the Asia-Pacific. It should be based on the principles of equality, respect for international law, indivisibility of security, non-use of force or threat of force. Today this task is becoming increasingly important. The forthcoming Summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) serves to contribute to addressing this task."