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China, Russia Enhance Cooperation in Border Area

China and Russia have enhanced bilateral cooperation to create a stable political and economic environment and promote prosperity in the border areas.

Agreements on the regular meetings between the governor of Heilongjiang Province, northeast China, which shares long borders with Russia, and heads of administrations of Russia's Chitinskaya obl., Amurskaya obl., Yevreyskaya ao, Khabarovskiy Kray and Primorskiy Kray have been signed for the purpose of promoting bilateral cooperation.

Zhang Zhiqing, deputy head of the foreign affairs office of Heilongjiang Province, said that Governor Zhang Zuoji would visit Amurskaya obl., Yevreyskaya ao, Khabarovskiy Kray and Primorskiy Kray at the end of the year and in the first half of next year.

Governor Zhang will meet the heads of administrations of the four Russian regions for the first time since they signed the agreements in October and early November last year. They will discuss plans on bilateral exchanges and sign a series of agreements of cooperation during their scheduled meetings.

With the approval of the central government of China, Heilongjiang Province signed agreements on regular governor-level meetings with the five Russian regions between October 22 and November 4 last year.

Relevant parties have set up their respective committees for regular meetings and established several working groups for friendly exchanges and cooperation in the fields of economy, trade, science and technology, and environmental protection.

This is the first regular governor-level meeting mechanism that a Chinese province has established with a foreign counterpart.

The regular meetings are scheduled to be held at least once every year. Discussions will center on plans for bilateral cooperation, sum up bilateral exchanges and cooperation in various fields and solve major problems arising from exchanges and cooperation.

Governor Zhang visited Chitinskaya obl. last month and met, for the first time, with the head of administration of the Russia region. The two sides signed six agreements on trade and economic cooperation and plans on cooperation in the transportation, telecommunications, building, forestry and development of mineral resources in 2004.

The two sides also agreed to further enhance cooperation in the fields of education, culture, health, sports and tourism.

During the SARS period early this year, officials from the Chinese province and relevant Russian regions met several times to discuss cooperation in preventing the spread of the disease and measures for guaranteeing safe trade activities in the border areas.

The regular governor-level meeting mechanism has become an important part of the strategic partnership of cooperation and good neighborly cooperation between China and Russia, said Zhao Lizhi, head of the Russia Research Institute under the Heilongjiang Provincial Academy of Social Sciences.

Russia's decision to develop its far east region and China's decision to rejuvenate its northeastern industrial base have made it possible for the two sides to expand and deepen cooperation in neighboring areas.

Statistics show that the trade volume between Heilongjiang and Russia hit US$2.3 billion last year, or one-fifth of the total trade volume between China and Russia for the same year.

(Xinhua News Agency October 3, 2003)

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