Before it began, Xi Jinping’s July 3–4 visit to Russia was described by the Russian side as a milestone event In Russian-Chinese relations. It was accompanied by the signing of a number of policy papers regarding principles of further international cooperation and plans for developing bilateral relations. At the same time, from the point of view of practical economic results, it is more of a routine annual top-level visit, rather successful, but not accompanied by grand achievements.
Agreements with practical meaning included an agreement between the Russian Direct Investment Fund and the China Development Bank on the creation of a Russian-Chinese investment cooperation fund that uses national currencies;
An agreement between Vneshekonombank and the China Development Bank on joint financing of technological projects to an amount of $6 billion yuan;
An agreement between the Russian Direct Investment Fund on the China Investment Corporation on the additional capitalization of the Russian-Chinese Investment Fund by $1 billion.
From the point of view of prospects, the sides signed a memorandum of understanding between Gazprombank and China Chengtong Holding Group on the creation of a $1 billion investment fund.
The sides did not accomplish a breakthrough on stalled talks on several bilateral megaprojects, including the Moscow-Kazan railway and additional routs for supplying Russian gas to China.
However, there were no grounds for the expectation of such breakthroughs. For behind those megaprojects that managed to be brought to the practical implementation stage (shipments of oil to China via the East Siberia-Pacific Ocean oil pipeline and gas through the Power of Siberia gas pipeline) stood almost ten years of negotiations, during which it seemed that all was lost and there will be no deal.
At the same time, judging by a number of agreements and statements on the fields of the visit, gradual progress has been observed in a number of large projects. For example, Gazprom Chairman Alexey Miller announced the volume of deliveries of Russian Far Eastern gas through the Siberia Force and expressed the hope that the relevant talks "will go to the final stage" in the fall. The agreement on the establishment of a joint venture with the participation of Russia’s Sinara Group for the localization of the production of Chinese rolling stock for high-speed roads in Russia suggests some dynamics in the preparation of the agreement on high-speed rail.
In Lead-Up to G20, Russia and China Reached Historic Peak in Relations
In the lead-up to this year’s G20 summit, the relationship between Russia and China is at a historically high point, Li Xin, Director of the Center for Russia and Central Asia Studies at the Shanghai Institute of International Studies told valdaiclub.com.
Two signed joint statements were of great importance: on deepening the relations of comprehensive partnership and strategic interaction, and on the current global situation and the most important international problems. The first statement not only outlines further directions in the development of cooperation along the lines of state structures, enterprises and public associations, but also gives a new impetus to the Russian idea of the Eurasian Economic Partnership. The statement indicates the readiness to take concrete measures towards the implementation of this initiative and the signing of an agreement between the Ministry of Economic Development of Russia and the Ministry of Commerce of China on the development of a feasibility study for such a partnership is welcomed. The preparedness of the sides expressed in the statement to accelerate negotiations on cooperation in the agricultural sphere, including on issues of inspections and quarantine is positive for Russia. Also announced are far-reaching plans for cooperation in the sphere of high technologies and space.
In the statement on the situation in the world, the parties undertake to strengthen interaction practically across the whole range of international problems, including those where previously serious Russian-Chinese interaction was not observed, for example, Latin America and the Caribbean are mentioned separately. Perhaps the fact is that both Russia and China have acted as major investors and creditors of Venezuela which was balancing on the brink of bankruptcy and the collapse, and now must together think how to save their investments.
Other issues raised include the main topics on global governance (the development of the global economy and trade, Internet regulation, global strategic stability, the role of the UN, human rights, etc.), Syria, the Korean Peninsula, Afghanistan, Central Asia, and the deployment of US missile defense systems. On all of them, the sides expressed support for each other's positions and readiness to enhance cooperation.
At the same time, in the statement, the parties steered clear from talking about Ukraine and China’s discord with its neighbors in the Asia-Pacific region. China does not want to involve itself in Ukraine, while Russia does not want to involve itself in the conflict-related aspects of the relations between China and Japan. China is gradually ramping up its own diplomacy and is increasing its level of participation in global affairs, although it still puts a high value on international engagement with Moscow.
The visit, which took place during the worsening of the Korean crisis, before the G20 summit and the first Russian-Chinese exercises in the Baltic was likely very important from the point of view of personal communications between the two leaders and the coordination of their positions. The factor of personal communication plays an important role in Russian-Chinese relations. It is known that Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping have friendly personal relations and the extraordinary nature of these relations was emphasized with the Order of St. Andrew, Russia’s highest award.