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Hu's Russian Visit to Further Strengthen Strategic Cooperation
Chinese President Hu Jintao is now in Moscow to attend the summit meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the 300th anniversary ceremony of the establishment of St. Petersburg. It is widely thought that Hu’s visit marks a new stage of development of Sino-Russian relations as a strategic partnership of cooperation.

Bilateral Ties to Deepen

Since the early 1990s, Sino-Russian relations keep reaching new heights. First came the normalization of bilateral ties, followed by the establishment of good-neighborly relations. Then a constructive partnership was promoted to a strategic partnership for cooperation. Every step has indicated growing political trust, expanding cooperation in areas of common interest, and enhanced friendly relations.

Entering the new century, leaders of both countries have made farsighted policy decisions with a view to setting up a relationship where China and Russia can remain firm friends rather than enemies. In July 2001, former Chinese President Jiang Zemin and Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the Sino-Russian Good-neighborly Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation in Moscow, declaring the two countries to be “good neighbors, good friends and good partners” forever. While giving a summation of previous cooperation, the treaty points the way forward for future development of bilateral ties with a legal basis.

Overall Sino-Russian relations at present, which are developing steadily, keep up with the times and are in the fundamental interest between the two peoples.

First, political cooperation channels between both sides are sound and fruitful. Presidents and premiers of both countries meet regularly every year to discuss and decide policies on significant issues of bilateral cooperation. This has become the most important channel to constantly promote and improve bilateral ties. Hot-line telephone conversations between leaders of both countries have further perfected this flexible and effective channel. All told, each year there is an exchange of over 100 delegations from legislative bodies, government authorities, political parties, administrative organs at the local level, and non-governmental organizations of both countries. These working visits and friendly exchanges are conducive not only to the settlement of relevant issues but also to advance mutual understanding and trust.

Second, both sides have managed multi-form cooperation in economy and trade, and achieved remarkable success. Economic cooperation between China and Russia has made much headway in the past decade. Trade volume went up to US$12 billion in 2002 from some US$1 billion in 1991 when the Russian Federation proclaimed independence. Bilateral trade in 2003 still maintains good momentum for growth. The first two months saw a trade volume of over US$2 billion, 37 percent up, of which Russia’s export volume to China increased by 27 percent, and China’s export volume to Russia by 66 percent.

There is a gradual increase in mutual investment projects in the processing industry, resource development, tourism and transportation. Accordingly, cooperative environments have been significantly improved. In particular, Russia has participated in China’s nuclear power plant construction and the project to transport gas from the west to the east. In addition, the oil pipeline from Angarsk in Russia to Daqing in China will soon be built. All together will give an impetus to the economic cooperation of both countries.

Third, there are great possibilities for all-round cultural exchange. Through the good work of the Sino-Russian Committee for Peace, Friendship and Development, universities and scientific research institutes of the two countries have had frequent contacts in recent years. Bilateral cooperation in such areas as the aerospace industry, oceanic mining, nuclear energy, chemical industries and composite material has achieved positive results. Multilevel exchanges in higher education, sports, culture and hygiene have become institutionalized.

Fourth, security cooperation provides a powerful guarantee for the stability of its borders. China and Russia share a boundary line of over 4,300 kilometers. A firm foundation of bilateral relations depends on stability and security in the border area. While carrying out the concluded boundary treaty on the eastern and western sectors, both countries are vigorously searching for an acceptable way to demarcate the remaining boundaries. Through the legal management by frontier guards and border administrative departments, the common boundary has become a tie for peace, friendship and cooperation between the two countries.

Facing the Challenge of Reality

A significant area of Sino-Russian strategic partnership is cooperation in international affairs. Facing the dramatic changes in the existing international order and the threats of terrorism, both China and Russia, out of the consideration for safeguarding world peace, have advocated that the authority of the United Nations should be strengthened and the UN should play the role of leadership in promoting common security for various countries. It is based on this common outlook that the two countries have been in close touch with each other and cooperating in the handling of many important international issues. For instance, both countries demand that the reconstruction of post-war Iraq should be under the auspices of the UN, against the United State's abuse of power. The UN resolution on post-war administration and reconstruction adopted recently can be said to be a product of joint efforts of various sides including China and Russia urging the US to compromise.

In respect of the international efforts against terrorism, the two sides show sympathy for and understanding of US and support the essential anti-terrorist action taken by the US on the one hand; on the other hand, however, they are opposed to the US resorting to force for solving security issues. China and Russia also hold similar views in terms of cutting down strategic weapons, preventing the proliferation of massive anti-personnel weapons, cracking down on drug smuggling and transnational crime, safeguarding security of space and environment and other issues involving world peace and development. All this has laid a solid foundation for the two countries to conduct strategic cooperation at a higher level and in a wider area.

Enhancing Security in Surrounding Areas

Just like in other international organizations, the two countries have been closely cooperating in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which is an important factor guaranteeing the consolidation and development of the SCO. The purpose of establishing the SCO was first of all to strengthen regional security and stability and guarantee the Sino-Russian border as well as Central Asia and neighboring regions against any form of extremist and terrorist threat. Building on this, to expand cooperation among member states in politics, economics and trade, science and technology, culture and education, and other sectors promoting mutual development.

The process of the "Shanghai Five" developing into the SCO is a process for China and Russia to conduct constructive cooperation with other member states. Declaration of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization issued on June 15, 2001 pointed out that the "Shanghai Spirit", featuring "mutual trust and benefit, equality, consultation, mutual respect to different civilizations and common prosperity" is a valuable asset accumulated through member states' cooperation in recent years and should be carried forward and developed into the principles for bilateral and multilateral relations of the SCO countries.

As two big countries and founding members of the SCO, China and Russia have not only observed the spirit of cooperation when handling bilateral relations but also carried forward the spirit inside the SCO to jointly create a sound cooperative atmosphere, enabling the SCO to have made remarkable achievements in internal construction and safeguarding regional security. Such achievements have aroused the attention of many international organizations including the United Nations and its anti-terrorism commission, ASEAN, Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe and European Union. India and Pakistan have recently showed their intention of joining the SCO.

At the third summit meeting of the SCO, Chinese President Hu Jintao and his counterparts from other member states will discuss a series of legal documents concerning organizational construction to improve the setup of the working body of the organization, making it a viable international organization so as to play its due role in safeguarding regional security and development and promoting world peace.

(China.org.cn, translated by Chen Qiuping and Shao Da, May 27, 2003)

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