Premier of the State Council of China Li Keqiang visited Moscow and St. Petersburg last week at the invitation of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. Vladimir Petrovsky, Senior Researcher at the Center for the Studies and Forecasting of Russia-China Relations (Russia-China Center), Institute of Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, talked with valdaiclub.com about the importance of this visit, during which the sides signed several joint statements.
In the last few years, Russia and China have created a ramified network of cooperation, including at the government level, and Li Keqiang’s visit, which was the 21st meeting of the heads of the Russian and Chinese governments, has greatly contributed to this process, Petrovsky said.
He believes that the main result of this visit was a clear trend for promoting bilateral relations on the basis of strategic planning. “We know that political dialogue between Russia and China has been developing dynamically, and there is a high level of political trust between the two countries’ leaders,” Petrovsky said. “However, we need to convert this trust into concrete achievements in the development of cooperation. Considering their active political dialogue, Russia and China are ready to jointly consider the future of their relations five, 10 or even 15 years ahead.”
Evidence of the strategic nature of Russian-Chinese cooperation is the November 7, 2016 joint statement on the development of strategic cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear power. “Under it, Rosatom will build new power units in China, which has ambitious plans for its nuclear energy sector in the next few decades. At the same time, there are very interesting areas for cooperation between Rosatom and our Chinese partners in the nuclear energy market of other countries,” Petrovsky pointed out.
Russia and China have strengthened their focus on cross-border and interregional relations. During Li Keqiang’s visit, the partners have created an intergovernmental commission on cross-border cooperation. The commission is expected to boost the development of the Far Eastern and Baikal regions, which is a strategic goal for Russia.
“Our countries’ leaders have said on a number of occasions that cross-border cooperation is a major reserve for the further expansion of bilateral relations. They are now considering the aligned development of Siberia and the Far Eastern regions. The above commission will focus on expanding cooperation between Russia’s Far Eastern and Baikal regions with provinces in northeast China,” Petrovsky said.
Russia and China are also developing interregional cooperation. They are preparing to open two new consular districts – a Russian consulate in Wuhan and a Chinese consulate in Kazan – within the interaction programme in the Volga-Yangtze format.
In addition to meeting with his Russian counterpart, Li Keqiang met with President Vladimir Putin, who asked him to “give President Xi Jinping my best regards and remind him that we expect him for a traditional official visit in Moscow in 2017.” In response, the Chinese Premier said that President Xi Jinping sends his best regards to President Putin and added that “Chinese-Russian cooperation not only benefits our nations. More importantly, it is also good for peace and stability in the region and the rest of the world.”