Rising Russo-China relations: Xi meets Putin in Moscow before G20 summit!
-Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal
Today, if at all any two big powers share territories and conduct trade mutually beneficially and they do not have any serious problems, then, Russia and China fit the bill. The bilateral ties between two veto members and former communist states in Europe and Asia have been improving tremendously.
End of Cold War and NATO targeting Russia and China in fact brought them together. There have been mutual visits by leaders from both nations on a regular basis. In fact, Chinese president visits Moscow as many times as possible and each time at least a new deal of economic substance gets inked between them.
Chinese President Chinese President Xi Jinping is now in Moscow before he travels to Germany to take part in an upcoming G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany and met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Chinese president is making a two-day stop in Moscow on his way to Germany, where a G20 summit is scheduled for later this week. According to Russia’s ambassador to China, Andrey Denisov, during the visit China and Russia will sign multiple contracts for the collective worth of over $10 billion in various fields.
Ahead of his visit, the Chinese leader gave an interview to Russia’s TASS news agency, in which he particularly focused on the issue of deployment of the US THAAD missile defense systems to South Korea. Xi criticized the move as “disrupting the strategic balance in the region” and threatening the security interests of all countries in the region, including Russia and China. He also reiterated that Beijing is urging Washington and Seoul to back away from the decision to deploy THAAD systems to the Korean peninsula.
Putin and Xi already held an informal dinner at the Kremlin. The two leaders exchanged views on Syria as well as issues relating to the Korean Peninsula, where they agreed to “jointly push for a proper settlement… via dialogue and negotiation,” according to Chinese state news agency, Xinhua. The Chinese leader also emphasized the need to boost cooperation and “steadfastly support each other in pursuing their own development paths and defending their respective sovereignty, national security and development interests,” Chinese media reported.
Economic cooperation and trade is the most wide-ranging area in Russo-China cooperation and enjoys great potential. Before his departure for the state visit to Russia, Xi said, “Our two countries have built a high level of political and strategic trust… I believe the visit will lend new impetus to the growth of bilateral relations.” He also expressed hope that the G20 will continue to uphold the spirit of partnership for win-win cooperation. It is the two leaders’ third meeting this year, and deals worth $10 billion are expected to be signed this time.
President Putin has described the meeting as a major event in bilateral relations that have been growing and deepening for years ever since USA and EU slapped economic sanction on Moscow for annexing (rather retaking) Crimea which had been an integral part of Russian empire for centuries before it was shifted to Ukraine for administrative reasons by then Soviet President Khrushchev.
As a sign of closer relationship, Putin will bestow upon Xi one of Russia’s utmost honors, the order of St. Andrew the First-Called, for his extreme efforts towards bolstering friendship and ties between peoples of Russia and China.
Xi’s meeting with Putin will be the third of its kind this year.
Less than a month ago, Putin and Xi met in Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana, on the sidelines of a Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit. At that time, Putin called the upcoming meeting in Moscow “a major event in bilateral relations,” noting that it would have a “significant” impact on bilateral ties.
Before the Astana meeting on June 8, Xi had hosted Putin in Beijing during the high-level ‘One Belt, One Road’ forum, which brought together dozens of heads of state in May to discuss international cooperation.
During Xi’s visit to Moscow, scheduled for July 3-4, Russia and China will sign several contracts worth a total of $10 billion, as well as more than a dozen intergovernmental agreements on cooperation in various fields
Beijing is Moscow’s biggest trading partner, accounting for 14.3 percent of Russia’s foreign trade turnover. Between January and April of 2017, the volume of trade between the two countries grew by 37 percent, reaching $24.5 billion.
Germany is Russia’s second biggest partner, with nine percent of Russia’s total trade volume
Moscow and Beijing have strengthened their strategic partnership on the international stage, Li noted, adding that they have been jointly pushing for political solutions to the Korean nuclear issue and the Syrian crisis.
Moscow and Beijing are determined to align positions on pressing international issues. Close ties allow the countries “to pursue a rather close course on various aspects of the agenda of international organizations, including the United Nations,” according to the ambassador. “When good intentions framed in lofty words lead to chaos, the collapse of states and, in the long run, to bloodshed and numerous human casualties, the role of stabilizers, of the factors that may have a cooling, stabilizing effect on the generally turbulent international situation is very important.
And Russian-Chinese relations are, to my mind, such a stabilizing factor, said the ambassador.
North Korea has successfully test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which it claims is capable of hitting anywhere in the world. The Hwasong-14 ballistic missile reached an altitude of 2,802 kilometers (1,741 miles) and hit its target precisely after flying for 39 minutes, the report said.
The latest test comes just hours after US President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed to exert added pressure on North Korea over its missile and nuclear development programs.
On June 3, the United Nations Security Council imposed a fresh array of sanctions on North Korea in response to a number of missile tests carried out by Pyongyang this year.
North Korea accuses the United States of plotting with regional allies to overthrow its government. Pyongyang says it will not relinquish its nuclear deterrence unless the United States ends its hostile policy toward North Korea and dissolves the US-led UN command in South Korea.
Moscow and Beijing have called for a simultaneous freeze on North Korea‘s missile tests and large-scale military drills by the United States and South Korea. Both countries made the demand in a statement released after Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks with visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Kremlin and the USA and South Korea refrain from carrying out large-scale joint exercises,” foreign ministries of the two countries said in a joint statement. “Parallel to this, the opposing sides should start negotiations and affirm general principles of their relations including the non-use of force, rejection of aggression and peaceful coexistence,” the statement said.
It also demanded that the United States immediately halt its controversial deployment of an anti-missile system, known as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), to South Korea.
North Korea missile launch breach of UN resolution
Separately, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov called North Korea’s latest test launch of a ballistic missile a breach of a UN Security Council resolution. Ryabkov said tensions with Pyongyang risked leading to catastrophic developments and that the missile launch showed that the only way forward was to organize multilateral talks with North Korea.
Unsettled by North Korean missile and nuclear programs, the United States has adopted a war-like posture, sending a strike group and conducting joint military drills with North Korea’s regional adversaries Japan and South Korea.
USA and China
Chinese President Xi Jinping has raised concerns with his American counterpart, Donald Trump, regarding “some negative factors” affecting Sino-American relations. In a telephone conversation with US President Donald Trump on Monday and before setting off for Russia, President Xi enumerated several factors adversely affecting the Beijing-Washington ties. Xi expressed Beijing’s displeasure with the recent approval by the US to sell $1 billion worth of arms to Taiwan, a self-ruled island that China considers part of its territory.
President Trump, who had previously questioned the “One China” policy, has reassured President Xi of continued US commitment to the practice. Trump has also more recently sought to court the Chinese president, including by inviting him and his wife to his private estate in Florida in May. Xi told Trump that his government expected Washington to continue managing relations on the basis of the “One China” principle, i.e. recognizing Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan.
In a telephone conversation, Xi also discussed the US sanctions against a Chinese bank over its dealings with North Korea. The US Treasury Department imposed new sanctions on the China-based Bank of Dadong and several Chinese nationals on Thursday for having “illicit” financial activities with North Korea.
The recent sailing of a US destroyer within the 12-nautical-mile territorial limit of an island claimed by China in the South China Sea was also another issue raised by the Chinese president.
The maneuver by the US guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem was earlier denounced by Beijing as a “provocation.”
Xi also expressed his opposition to the US deployment of an advanced missile system on South Korea. He warned that China and Russia would take “necessary measures” either together or independently to protect their interests with regard to the deployment of the system. “The US deployment of an advanced anti-missile system in South Korea gravely harms the strategic security interests of China, Russia, and other countries in the region,” Xinhua quoted Xi as having told Trump. “Beijing and Moscow are steadfastly opposed to the THAAD deployment and seriously suggest that relevant countries stop and cancel the installation,” he added, referring to the missile system, the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), by its acronym.
Both China and Russia have repeatedly voiced their opposition to the deployment and argued that the controversial missile system disrupts the regional strategic balance.
South Korea decided to host the missile system last year to deter perceived threats from North Korea. The US opposes North Korea’s missile and military nuclear activities, which Pyongyang says act as a deterrence against potential invasion by its adversaries.
Global growth continues to gather momentum, as both developed countries and emerging markets show stronger economic performance. However, grave challenges remain. Therefore, it is particularly important for the G20 to play its role as a premier forum for international economic cooperation. This evening, within Chinese President Xi Jinping’s official visit, there will be an informal dinner for President Putin and Xi Jinping at the Kremlin” It will have an unusual format of the meeting: the leaders will meet Russian and Chinese representatives of the public, businesses and media, who will briefly inform Putin and Xi Jinping on their cooperation,” added Peskov.