Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan arrive in Moscow Photo: AP
Freshly elected President Xi Jinping chose the Russian capital as the first foreign city he will visit as China’s head of state, as Moscow and Beijing move toward a full-fledged partnership for the next decade.
On the global arena, both Russia and China have a similar approach, and Jinping’s visit has been interpreted as a sign that the new Chinese administration is keen to re-inforce ties with Russia.
In the past, the two countries had a difficult and politically ambiguous relationship and were once Cold War rivals but their international interests are becoming more aligned.
The two countries have often jointly used their veto powers at the United Nationa Security Council, most recently with issues related to the Middle East, where they have blocked Western-backed measures regarding the Syrian conflict.
China and Russia also share a sizeable border and have tried to bolster their regional clout as a counterweight to a United States that is ‘pivoting’ towards Asia.
And as well as being permanent members of the Security Council, the two countries have worked shoulder-to-shoulder on the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the so-called G20.
President Xi Jinping will also be talking trade on his visit in Moscow. The two countries have burgeoning business interests.
Bilateral trade has more than doubled in the last five years and reached $83bn in 2012 but the volume of trade is still low compared to their other trade partners. It is five times smaller than Russia’s trade with the European Union, and also far smaller than China’s trade with the United States; but the trade in energy is seen as a growth market for the two countries.
Russia is of course the world’s largest energy producer and China the biggest consumer. The two countries are in discussion about a gas pipeline that could eventually deliver 38bn cubic metres of Russian gas a year to China
So, how significant is this visit? Will it shape a new relationship between Moscow and Beijing?
To discuss this Inside Story, with presenter Hazem Sika, is joined by guests: Victor Gao, the director of China National Association of International Studies, who was also a former China policy advisor; Dimitry Babich, a political analyst at Russia Profile magazine; and Roderic Wye, a China analyst at Chatham House and senior fellow with the China Policy Institute at Nottingham University.
“Obviously there is a lot of substance [in the meeting] about the energy relationship, there are big issues to talk about on the international stage – not least, North Korea and the problems there – but also it is an important symbol to show for both Russia and China that they have independent foreign policies … and that they are not beholden to the United States in any particular way.”
Source:Al Jazeera – Roderic Wye, China analyst at Chatham House
Xi’s foreign debut illuminates China’s “world dream”
On Friday, Chinese President Xi Jinping embarked on his first overseas trip since taking office last week, and experts here believe the trip will clarify Xi’s recent references to China’s “world dream.”
Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University of China, said, “The trip will reveal some important features of Xi’s concept of world order.”
“From the destinations of Xi’s first foreign trip, we can tell that China is committed to promoting democratization in international relations as well as a more just and reasonable international order and system,” he said.
In a joint interview on Tuesday with reporters from BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), Xi said China hopes that countries and cultures around the world will carry out exchanges on equal footing, learn from each other and achieve common progress.
He also voiced his hope that all countries will make joint efforts to build a harmonious world featuring enduring peace and common prosperity.
“This is Xi’s version of China’s ‘world dream,'” Shi said.
“It is in line with the common aspirations of people from different countries and closely related to the ‘Chinese dream’ put forward by Xi,” he said.
Pursuing the “Chinese dream” of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation is conducive to realizing the “world dream,” and if the “world dream” comes true, it could offer a sound external environment for the country to achieve the “Chinese dream,” Shi said.
NEW TYPE OF INTER-POWER TIES
Based on Xi’s first foreign trip and his interactions with other foreign leaders in the past week, analysts believe China is committed to developing a new type of “inter-power relations” in an all-around and open way, with hopes of breaking the zero-sum theory by promoting win-win cooperation.
Unlike past inter-power ties that have mainly targeted certain world powers, China now advocates a new type of cooperative relationship among all major powers, including leading powers among developing countries, said Ruan Zongze, deputy head of the China Institute of International Studies.
“We should adopt a new and open attitude toward all powers,” he said, adding that the word “new” here means regarding the development and growth of other countries as an opportunity for one’s own country.
“Only by doing this can state-to-state relations develop in a sound and sustainable way,” he said.
In the joint interview Tuesday, Xi said his visit to Russia shows the “high level and special nature” of the comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership between the two countries.
Ruan said China’s relations with Russia, the first leg of Xi’s trip, have already reached a stage featuring a “high level of mutual trust,” with both countries seeing each other’s development as an opportunity.
“The zero-sum mentality, namely believing one party’s success means the other’s failure, has been one of the major factors hampering mutual trust and creating conflicts between major powers,” he said.
Ruan pointed out that although Sino-Russian relations have seen marked progress in the past decade, this does not mean there are no problems in the bilateral relations.
“Both sides, however, agree not to let these differences restrain the development of bilateral relations,” Ruan said.
MAIDEN TRIP NOT TARGETING A THIRD PARTY
Analysts here also point out that Xi’s maiden overseas voyage as China’s head of state is not of an exclusive nature and does not target a third party.
Zhang Yuanyuan, former Chinese ambassador to Belgium, said China’s foreign policy is inclusive.
During his nine-day tour, Xi is scheduled to pay state visits to Russia, Tanzania, South Africa and the Republic of Congo. He is also expected to attend the fifth leaders’ summit of BRICS countries in Durban, South Africa.
Zhang said the visits involve multiple factors, including a world power and a neighboring country, developing countries and multilateral cooperation, all of which have been among China’s foreign policy priorities.
During the week since Xi was elected president, other Chinese leaders have received important guests and maintained contact with leaders from other countries.
In a phone conversation on March 14, Xi and U.S. President Barack Obama both promised to make efforts to achieve the goal of building a new type of inter-power relationship.
While meeting with U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew here on March 19, Xi urged the two nations to objectively view each other’s development stages, respect each other’s interests for further development and regard the other party’s opportunities and challenges as its own.
Zhang pointed out that building a new type of inter-power relationship and exploring ways for the two major powers to get along with each other could straighten out Sino-U.S. relations and break the historical curse in which “conflicts between major powers are inevitable.”
Meanwhile, Ruan Zongze dismissed concerns about Xi’s itinerary, saying such concerns are “totally unnecessary.”
“The reason for China to pursue the building of a new type of inter-power relationship is that it will not embark on the path of alliance,” he said.
“The age of old-school alliances or jointly targeting a third party has long passed,” Ruan said.- Xinhua