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China-Russia: a special relationship

China-Russia: a special relationship
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It is less than a year since Chinese and Russian leaders last met officially, when Vladimir Putin had just resumed his function as president in June 2012.

Now China has a new president, and Xi Jinping’s choice of Russia for his first foreign voyage signals he wants to keep this bilateral partnership a priority.

The two countries’ relations have not all been plain sailing on the international scene, with Moscow and Beijing repeatedly using their vetoes in the United Nations Security Council, against any intervention in Syria.

Blocking American diplomatic moves there was even talk of a Cold War atmosphere returning.

Economic strategy is at the core of China-Russia relations. They used to be rivals but now they try to coexist, though they are still somewhat wary of each other.

The two giants clearly are not moving at the same speed. China’s GDP last year bounded ahead by growing 7.8 percent while Russia’s grew 3.5 percent and is stagnant today. So, they are still competing.

The past few decades have seen stimulating trade. Moscow sold Beijing military and space technology and oil. In the other direction, Chinese consumer goods poured over to the Russians.

In the space of 20 years the total bilateral exchange has been multiplied by 14. It surpassed 68 billion euros-worth last year.

The two countries have a target of beyond 77 billion euros in the next two years.

Russia wants to develop its energy interests and influence in China – the world’s biggest energy consumer – to be less dependent on the European market.

Moscow would like to double its present annual 15 million-tonne delivery of oil to China. The gas goal is to provide China with 70 billion cubic metres annually within 30 years.

China has changed from the world’s factory to the main motor of global growth but its ties with important Asian partners or others have also grown more complicated.

This means Beijing and Moscow’s interests are inter-linked more than ever.

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