Sino-Russian Relations Moving on Against Challenges

Both China and Russia should be vigilant against the third party’s interferences, maintaining independence in foreign policies.

I. Sino-Russian all-out cooperation continues at high speed

In 2015, facing unfavorable geopolitical milieu and severe economic situation, Sino-Russian relationship continued to achieve new significant progress.

1. To enhance strategic cooperation. In 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin had five formal meetings at both bilateral and multilateral occasions, maintaining a high frequency of dialogues and coordination on hot regional, international issues, and bilateral relations as well. The outcome of consultations on strategic security issues is significant. Both presidents advocate building new international relationship with the core of win-win cooperation. When the West commonly resisted Russia’s parade for the 70th anniversary in memory of the Great Patriotic War and China’s commemorating the 70th anniversary of the victories in the war against Japan and the World Anti-Fascism war, both leaders attended each other’s celebrations. Moreover, both also signed a joint statement regarding the coordination between the Silk Road initiative and the Eurasian Economic Union. Russia reiterated its support for China’s Silk Road Economic Belt construction, while China continues to back Russia in actively promoting the integration within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union.

2.To accelerate the paces of cooperation in military and high technology. In 2015, both sides signed contracts according to which Russia sells S-400 Anti-air missiles and SU-35s to China. Both navies held “Joint Sea 2015 II” military drills in and around the waters of the Mediterranean, the Peter the Great Bay and Japan, in addition to along the Kelieerka. Both signed an agreement in jointly producing advanced heavy-lift helicopters and concluded preliminary design programs of wide-body aircrafts. Besides, both sides also signed a Moscow-Kazan high-speed railway construction MOU. Only as far as trade and economic project contracts in the field of science and technology are concerned, they reached a total of hundreds of billions of U.S. dollars.

3. To achieve new heights in financial, energy, infrastructure, agriculture and humanitarian cooperation. For the first time, Russia allowed Chinese banks, with a capital less than 5 billion rubles, to invest in projects of strategic significance. The Moscow Exchange officially opened RMB-ruble futures Exchange markets. In the energy sector, following the “Eastern” gas pipeline in the territory of both sides, these two countries signed a MOU between Russia and China regarding gas transmission project. Agricultural cooperation had gradually become a new highlight. Russian exports of agricultural products increased by 33% and both countries also signed a protocol on Russia’s exports of wheat. Cultural cooperation was on the rise. In the first nine months, China’s visitors to Russia accounted for 10% of all foreign visitors. China has become the only country whose number of visitors has increased.

II. To deal with challenges and constraints facing bilateral relations

1. It will be difficult for both countries to ease significantly their downward economic pressures in the near future. There is increasing uncertainty in Russia’s economic recovery. China is undergoing economic restructuring. Its task in digest excess capacities is arduous. After entering the “new normal”, China’s ability in absorbing the bulk commodities has weakened. Against the above-mentioned background, it has already had a negative impact on bilateral economic and trade cooperation.

2. The hysteresis between both countries’ long-term trade structure has become more prominent. It includes prominent government dominance, weak market functions; many unilateral restrictions and insufficient mutual openness; many large-scale projects, few SMEs; excessive proportion of raw materials and rather low manufacturing in science and technology.

3. Both countries are facing and focusing on differences in interest between them under the new situation. Geopolitically, Russia is more concerned about the game, the ebb and flow of interests within Eurasian, while China more values the evolution of neighboring countries and the Asia Pacific region, in addition to its own influences. On bilateral economic cooperation and opening-up issues, particularly in the areas of cooperation and personnel exchanges, Russia has more restrictions, yet China is more willing to achieve greater openness and cooperation. In energy cooperation, Russia pursues the diversification of the market, while China is attempting to achieve diversification in imports and sources.

III. How to grasp the future of Sino-Russian relationship?

Both China and Russia should be vigilant against the third party’s interferences, maintaining independence in foreign policies. In major events related with each other’s interest, both should communicate in time in order to avoid misunderstanding and miscalculation. Both countries have some complex domestic and international issues, which are especially sensitive. When it comes to these issues, both countries need to be particularly cautious.

Both countries should form a strategic determination in economic cooperation. Both should take each other as long-term, comprehensive, strategic partner, enabling the economic relations to become an important “ballast stone” for bilateral relations.

Globally, the basic goal of Sino-Russian cooperation is to enhance their cooperation in global governance, to safeguard the authority of the United Nations in international affairs, and to jointly objecting to the emergence of a new “Iron Curtain” in international politics, preventing the new divisions on the earth.

As far as regional cooperation is concerned, it is important to form a China-Russia-Mongolia-Central Asia cooperation framework, making it a complete geo-political and geo-economic space.

On security issues in the Asia Pacific region, both China and Russia can take the CICA Summit as a platform, building the Asian Forum for Security Cooperation and promoting the construction of security system in Asia. Both China and Russia should consider pool efforts in hot issues including those in Afghanistan, Syria and other regions, pushing forward political mediation and enhancing capacities to effectively responding to changes in hot regions.
Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.