The visit of President Putin to China is over. No doubt is has become an event of historic importance. The Russian and Chinese leaders should know each other better – they have a long way to go strengthening bilateral cooperation. The level of mutual understanding is unprecedented. The prospects for Eurasia are breathtaking being boosted by comprehensive cooperation between Russia and China…
The progress reached in developing the bilateral relationship is part of extremely complicated international process which envisions the transition from West-oriented to polycentric world. 20 years have passed after the Soviet Union collapse. Now Russia is to turn a new page in its history. Everyone capable of making sound judgment realizes that the above mentioned transition is a must. The Russia-China relationship is another step to make the West see the reality and return to the policy of constructive dialogue.
One of the goals pursued by Russian foreign policy is to facilitate the creation of international pattern with Russia, the United States and China relationship based on mutual obligations, including arms control and crisis management in cooperation with other states. For instance, the appearance of «big three» alliance comprising Russia, the US and China would serve the purpose. The «America-Russia-China friendship triangle» founded to benefit the whole world was a coveted dream of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Russia pursues a balanced foreign policy that presupposes normal relations with the United States, the European Union and Japan. India, South Korea and ASEAN are also in focus. The special relationship with China facilitates the implementation of this concept. This course by and large matches the policy of Beijing.
The emergence of failed states emphasizes the importance of comprehensive international cooperation to overcome the negative aspects of globalization. The deep crisis of Ukraine’s statehood is probably one of the most threatening international challenges. It’s important for Russia and China to align positions on the issue.
The visit resulted in the long-awaited breakthrough in bilateral energy cooperation. Gasprom lends a helping hand to the Chinese dragon suffering from coal smog. China is to start a large-scale effort to make its air clean. It is planned to drastically change the situation in 20 years. Alexey Miller, the head of Gasprom, said it’s just a beginning, «Great impetus will be given to entire economic sectors, namely metallurgy, pipe and machine building. Today we started the first page of a big book, a fascinating story of the Russian-Chinese cooperation in the gas industry, and many more essential chapters are yet to be written in it». Filling the page means creating around 12 thousand new working places in the Russian territory east of the Urals, 55 billion dollars of investments into developing new fields of gas extraction and new contracts for Russian metallurgy, engineering and pipe builders.
Pepe Escobar coined the term Pipelineistan in his breathtaking report devoted to the embattled energy corridor (a key pipeline) that runs from the Caspian Sea to Europe through Georgia and Turkey – and the Great Game of business, diplomacy, and proxy war between Russia and the U.S. that has gone with it. Nowadays the Eurasian Pipelineistan firmly knits together the Shanghai Cooperation Organization members and the process of further integration is in full swing.
The flows of Chinese investments into Russian economy are intensified. The Tula car maker will get over half a billion dollars to be invested by Chancheng. The largest in history energy package envisages investments into the economic infrastructure of the eastern part of Russia. Russian car makers will greatly benefit from the cooperation with China. Russian petrochemical company SIBUR signed the agreement on the second large-scale cooperation project to establish a joint venture to manufacture nitrile and isoprene rubber in the Shanghai area of China. The joint venture will use the patents and technologies of SIBUR.
There are no doubts the Russia – China cooperation has great future. At that Russia has to protect itself from trade expansion of Asian producers. Friendship presupposes exchange of critical remarks and making grievances known. The Russian industry is too weak in some respects and needs to be protected.
One more acute problem should be noted here as it unfavorably affects the relationship. The Chinese agencies face difficulty in finding counterparts in Russia. For instance, the China’s National Development and Reform Commission cannot find an interlocutor. There are other state bodies dealing in science and industry unable to make precise who to establish contacts with. The China People’s Bank has a Russian counterpart which is formally an independent entity, though it’s hard to say what this independence means and who exactly it is independent from. The list can go on. Russia needs changes to seize the opportunities offered by fast-growing cooperation with its number one partner.
Planning, the ability to make assessments and forecasts – that’s what the contemporary world needs and lacks and that’s where Russia still has a long way to go. The China’s expertise in this field makes it a leader and an alternative to the chaos raging in other countries. Since a long time ago China abandoned the policy of making difference between government and private property or administratively planned and market-oriented economies. It’s all long gone and forgotten. A strong state, planning and developed market economy can well co-exist, but it’s expedient to facilitate the progress of large national corporations while overseeing their activities to make them serve the interests of national economy.
The world is rapidly striding deep into the XXI century. The pattern built on the basis of «center-periphery» is breaking apart leaving wide cracks that may negatively affect the West. It will boost the role of national states and their inter-relationship making the humanity more responsible. It may be expedient to look back at what it was like during the twenty years after WWII. Those were the days of high economic growth, aid to the states with weak economies and competition between social projects of different kinds. With all the deficiencies it was a balanced pattern for joint progress.