As China continues on its inevitable rise, the East Asian giant is on the lookout for a sidekick. Fortunately, its powerful neighbor to the north appears ready to seize what may be a pivotal moment in the history of international relations.
Ties between China and Russia are arguably at their best in history. But unlike the honeymoon period following the establishment of diplomatic relations more than six decades ago, their relationship today is based on joint efforts to address each other's practical needs and concerns rather than shared ideological principles. As they boost cooperation across the board under the new paradigm, the two countries appear poised to help make the world fairer and more prosperous.
For China and Russia, 2012 has been a crucial year, during which both countries underwent political power transitions. Against this backdrop, exchanges at the top leadership level have been frequent. Following Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to China in June and Chinese President Hu Jintao's trip to Russia for the annual APEC leaders' meeting three months later, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited Russia in December. During the latest visit, the two neighbors entered into new agreements to meet their demands for further collaboration.
With bilateral trade hitting $73.6 billion from January to October and on track to exceed a total of $90 billion for the year, the goals set by the two countries to raise their trade volume to $100 billion by 2015 and $200 billion by 2020 now seem to be within reach. Moreover, the Year of Russian Tourism in China this year and the Year of Chinese Tourism to be held in Russia next year are designed to bolster mutual understanding between average Chinese and Russians and solicit their support for official ties.
The relationship between the two leading emerging economies is bound to transcend bilateral dimensions. China and Russia, both firm believers in multi-polarity and advocates of justice in global affairs, have worked and will continue to work in concert in multilateral forums such as the UN, the Group of 20, the BRICS group of emerging economies and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in a bid to shape a more equitable international order.
The Sino-Russian partnership, however, has yet to reach its full potential. While Russia needs China's investment in the construction of infrastructure such as roads and bridges, China hopes Russia continues to assist the Chinese in pursuing cutting-edge technology. Moreover, China's involvement in Russia's plan to develop its vast Far East is likely to give impetus to Northeast Asian economic integration.
In contrast to their partnership initially formed decades ago, the new Sino-Russian relationship is open, inclusive and aimed at promoting regional and global peace and development. This new model will allow them to forge ahead in spite of seismic changes within the two countries and in the international arena.